TEL AVIV (Jun. 7)
The 14th national convention of Herut ended early this morning several hours after re-electing Premier Menachem Begin party chairman by an almost unanimous vote and sustaining the defection of Geula Cohen and a tiny band of die-hard followers opposed to the peace treaty with Egypt.
Although there was considerable grumbling about the state of the nation’s economy and mutterings that the price paid for peace with Egypt–the eventual evacuation of Sinai– was too high, Begin carried the 1400 delegates with him on a wave of rhetoric designed to appeal to their ultra-nationalist sentiments. In a lengthy closing speech last night, the Premier vowed that any attempt to declare a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be crushed instantly. Addressing himself to those Herut members uneasy that even his very limited administrative autonomy plan might plant the seeds of such a state, Begin declared: “There will be no Palestinian state out of autonomy. How do I know it won’t come to be ? Because we will not let it.”
He added, ” If the administrative council (of Palestinians) meet and declare a Palestinian state, its II, members will be simply arrested and the military government will be reintroduced within two days.”
Begin cited the achievements of his government in the international field. “We brought peace with the largest Arab nation (Egypt) and changed Israel’s international standing,” he said. “We have more contacts with foreign leaders than ever before and some are such that cannot as yet be divulged,” He said there is a “de facto” peace with Jordan since it does not allow terrorists to operate from its territory, against Israel. “The bridges are open and people and goods pass between the two countries,” he said.
On domestic matter, Begin promised to keep the cost-of-living in check. ” I shall ask, as of today that every possible effort is made that there will be no more price increases of essential commodities, “he said. He also pledged to solve the housing short-age.” I shall ask Housing Minister (David) levy every Sunday ( when the Cabinet meets) how many new flats were under construction, ” Begin said. He expressed sympathy for Arab residents in Hebron beaten up recently by Jewish vandals who invaded their homes and offered them compensation.
” Hooliganism casts shame on all of us,” he said.
CONTROL OF TERRITORIES URGED
Resolutions adopted at the close of the convention declared that ” The Herut movement will seek the imposition of Israeli law, justice and administration on Judaea and Samaria (West Bank) and the Gaza Strip” after the five-year autonomy period expires; that.” Jerusalem remains under Israeli sovereignty and will never again be divided”; and that “there will never be a Palestinian state.” Another resolution declared that in future negotiations with Syria, “the Herut movement will seek to ensure that the Golan Heights remains under Israeli control.”
The convention expressed appreciation for Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s courageous leadership in signing the peace treaty with Israel in face of growing hostility on the part of Arab leaders. But the convention called on the government to make new efforts to persuade Egypt to allow Israel to retain its settlements in Sinai. Resolutions on domestic affairs urged additional cuts in the national budget to fight inflation and called for minimum wage and minimum income standards.