JERUSALEM (Sep. 24)
The Cabinet today accepted a proposal by Premier Menachem Begin endorsing the Camp David accords and empowering the government to remove Israeli settlers from Sinai, contingent upon a peace agreement with Egypt. The proposal, which will be submitted to the Knesset for approval, was adopted by a vote of 11-2 at a marathon Cabinet session that lasted more than eight hours.
There was no press briefing after the session ended at 6 p.m. local time. An official announcement said: “The Cabinet has confirmed the Camp David agreements. It has also confirmed in principle the removal of the settlements.”
The government’s decision means that a comprehensive package will be presented to the Knesset rather than a separate proposal on the settlements. This seemed to assure the support of the Labor Party, which voted 220-16 at a meeting today to support the Camp David agreements if submitted in a single package. Labor had said earlier that it would abstain if a separate vote was demanded on the settlements issue. Mapam, a component of the Labor Alignment, voted last week to approve the Camp David agreements.
PROPOSAL BY BEGIN
The proposal read by Begin stated: “The Kensset approves the Camp David agreements signed at the White House on 17 September by the Prime Minister. If, during the negotiations between Israel and Egypt on the peace agreement, there would be an agreement on all problems concerning this agreement–and the agreement is expressed in a written document–the Knesset empowers the government that within the framework of this agreement and within a period to be agreed by the two sides, to remove the Israeli settlers from Sinai and resettle them anew.
Two Cabinet Members voted against the proposal–Minister of Commerce and Industry Yigal Horwitz and Minister of Health Eliezer Shostak–both members of Likud’s La’am faction. The three National Religious Party ministers abstained.
The NRP, which is still debating the Camp David accords internally, had requested postponement of the general debate in the Knesset. It was reported earlier that Begin agreed to delay the start of the debate although he will present his proposals tomorrow. But later word was that the debate will begin tomorrow although no vote is expected before Wednesday or Thursday.