JERUSALEM (Mar. 5)
Leaders of the opposition Labor Party warned Premier Menachem Begin’s government last night that its interpretation of Security Council Resolution 242 to exclude the West Bank and Gaza Strip as areas for territorial compromises, ran counter to the interpretation by all previous Israeli governments. That view was emphasized by two former Premiers, Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin, and former Justice Minister Haim Zadok, at a Labor Party political forum.
Resolution 242, adopted by the Security Council on Nov. 22, 1967 as the basis for an eventual peace settlement, calls for “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories of recent conflict.” Begin indicated recently that he does not consider it applicable to the West Bank because, except for Britain and Pakistan, no country ever recognized Jordan’s sovereignty over the area from 1948-67.
But the Labor Party leaders maintained that every Israeli government since 1967 has acknowledged that the resolution requires withdrawals from the West Bank although Israel rejects the Arab interpretation that 242 demands total with drawl from all occupied territories.
Mrs. Meir warred that any shift from the accepted interpretation could doom current Mideast political negotiations. She recalled that when she was in office she made no secret of Israel’s interpretation “and nobody thought otherwise.” Zadok noted that Begin himself, then in the opposition, agreed that 242 called for withdrawals on all fronts. Rabin said Israel’s interpretation remained unaltered until now.
The subject, which has created a new source of friction between the Begin government and the United States, was reportedly described as a political debate. The Cabinet also discussed the deadlock in U.S. efforts to persuade Jordan to join the Israeli-Egyptian peace process, the debate over the Carter Administration’s proposal to sell combat aircraft to Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in a single package and President Anwar Sadat’s personal letter to Begin, which was delivered to Begin last Thursday by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Alfred L. Atherton.