Government Coalition Sharply Divided over the Golan Bill
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Government Coalition Sharply Divided over the Golan Bill

— Premier Menachem Begin briefed the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee today on a proposed bill to apply Israeli law on the Golan Heights — tantamount to annexation. Reactions among committee members indicated Begin’s coalition is sharply divided over the wisdom of such a move.

The issue was raised by Yossi Sarid of the Labor Alignment who demanded to know the government’s attitude toward the proposed bill before the Knesset is asked to act on it. He recalled that in the case of the controversial Jerusalem Law, which proclaimed united Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the government remained non-committal and allowed the Knesset to bear the brunt of adverse international reaction when the law was passed. The government can no longer hide its own intentions “behind the apron of the Knesset’s sovereignty,” Sarid said.

Begin replied that the government had never avoided the issue on the Jerusalem Law and the same would apply to the Golan bill. “The Cabinet will discuss the subject in due course,” he said. The Golan bill was drafted by MK Geula Cohen of the ultra-nationalist Tehiya faction who was also responsible for the Jerusalem Law. Cohen is expected to submit the bill to the Knesset next week.


All members of the committee shared Sarid’s view that the government should make clear its position on the issue before it comes up in the Knesset. Zerah Worhaftig, of the National Religious Party, said the Golan bill would be a terrible mistake made through political blindness.

But his NRP colleague Haim Druckman, insisted that the legislation was necessary for the sake of the Golan settlers who feared the some fate as the Yamit settlers. Yamit, in northern Sinai, is to be evacuated next year in compliance with the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

Yehuda Ben-Meir of the NRP said he hadn’t made up his mind on the Golan bill and wanted to hear the government’s position. Two Likud MKs, Menachem Savidor and Avraham Katz, opposed the bill. Savidor said it was contrary to Likud’s election platform which called for unconditional negotiations with Syria. But another Likud MK, Yosef Rom, claimed the timing and the international situation were ripe for annexation of the Golan Heights.