TEL AVIV (Feb. 15)
A reported “slip of the tongue” by Labor Party chairman Shimon Peres on the issue of Jewish settlements on the West Bank has dismayed many Laborites but pleased Likud which is still smarting over Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan’s remarks this week about the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The Peres gaff occurred during a banquet in honor of visiting Defense Secretary Harold Brown tendered by U. S. Ambassador Samuel Lewis to which leaders of both government and apposition factions were invited. In response to a question, Peres is alleged to have said that if Labor returned to power, it would remove Jewish settlements in the Judoea and Samaria regions while settlements in the Jordan Valley might come under Jordanian sovereignty.
According to accounts by a person attending the gale, former Premier Yitzhak Rabin and former Commerce Minister Haim Barlev sought to rescue their colleague from embarrassment. They were quick to explain that Peres really meant to say that the settlements in the Jordan Valley would remain under Israeli sovereignty while those in the heavily Arab populated regions could come under another sovereignty provided that a peace agreement was reached between Israel and Jordan. Peres promptly agreed that that was indeed what he had meant.
Deputy Premier Yigael Yadin said afterwards that Peres had in fact suggested that some settlements would be “dismantled” and that those in the Jordan Valley would come under Jordanian rule. He confirmed that Peres amended his statement with the help of Rabin and Barlev. Brown reportedly remarked that after hearing so many differing views of the problem he understood the familiar joke that wherever two Jews get together there are three opinions.