JERUSALEM (May. 25)
Premier Menachem Begin said today that the Cabinet would begin discussion at its session this Sunday of the questions posed by the United States regarding Israel’s peace plan. He indicated, however, that the discussions would probably require more than one Cabinet session before the answers are formulated.
At the same time, Begin rejected a demand by Herut hardliner MK Geula Cohen that the government completely ignore the American questions and give no replies. The questions relate to the issue of sovereignty on the West Bank after the five years of “self-rule” offered in Begin’s peace plan and the issue of a Palestinian voice in determining their future. They were put to Begin and to Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan by President Carter and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance when the Israeli leaders were in Washington three weeks ago.
CRITICISM FROM HAWKISH ELEMENTS
The Premier, meeting with the Likud Knesset faction at his office, faced strong criticism from his party’s most hawkish elements. He insisted that his government was sparing no efforts to achieve peace and claimed that when Likud took power a year ago many foresaw a new war which did not materialize.
Begin said his government instead took immediate steps for direct negotiations with the Arab countries. He claimed, as he has many times before, that the U.S. initially supported his peace plan but withdrew its support after Begin’s terms were rejected by President Anwar Sadat of Egypt.
Begin termed the first six months of Likud rule as successful. He said the criticism now raised against his government concerned only the latter half of the year “which is not sufficient time to judge.” But he promised to give careful consideration to the points raised by the critics within his own party and promised the Likud MKs another meeting in the near future.