Cabinet Votes 15-0, 2 Abstentions to Approve Peace Treaty ‘in Principle’ with Certain ‘alterations’

The Cabinet voted 15-0 today to approve “in principle” with certain “alterations” the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty draft and directed Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman to return to Washington “to continue negotiations for the signing of the peace treaty.”

The vote, late this afternoon, ended 17 hours of intensive debate that began Monday night. Abstentions were registered by Health Minister Eliezer Shostak of Likud’s La’am faction and Energy Minister Yitzhak Modai of Likud’s Liberal Party wing. Premier Menachem Begin read a statement to reporters directly after the Cabinet adjourned. The statement said:

“The government session which discussed the draft peace treaty between Israel and Egypt lasted altogether 17 hours and at the end of the discussions it reached the following decisions with 15 votes for and two abstentions and no opposition. The government approves in principle the draft peace treaty between Egypt and Israel presented to it by the delegation to the peace conference in Washington.

“The government approves the proposed amendments put forward by the Prime Minister to the draft peace treaty. In accordance with this, the government handed instructions to the delegation and authorized it to continue in the negotiations for the signing of a peace treaty. The government also approved instructions to the delegation proposed by the Justice Minister. The final draft of a peace treaty with Egypt with all its appendices will be brought to the approval of the government and the Knesset.”

DAYAN, WEIZMAN RETURNING TO WASHINGTON

Dayan and Weizman are expected to leave for Washington tomorrow or Friday. Begin is scheduled to brief the Likud Knesset faction this evening in an attempt to ease the anxiety among some members over the draft treaty.

Earlier today, members of the La’am faction called on their colleagues, Zalman Shoval, advisor to the Foreign Minister, and Shostak, to resign from their respective positions if the treaty draft was approved. Another La’am figure, Yigael Horowitz, resigned as Minister of Commerce and Industry last month in protest against the Camp David agreements.

No indication was given by Begin or any other source as to the nature of the proposed amendments to the treaty draft. As Begin indicated, they were made at the request of Justice Minister Shmuel Tamir who had previously expressed concern over several legal aspects of the document.

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