Jerusalem (Nov. 2)
Premier Menachem Begin called today for a broad-based Knesset delegation to go to the U. S. and other countries to explain Israel’s objections to the Saudi Arabia eight-point peace plan.
Speaking at the opening of the Knesset’s winter session, Begin said such a delegation, which would meet with government and Congressional figures in Washington and address U. S. public opinion, was in the best democratic traditions. He said Israel would “ignore certain strange whisperings from across the sea.”
This appeared to be an allusion to remarks by President Reagan and Secretary of State Alexander Haig last week that the Saudi peace plan had certain “significant” elements and aspects that “encouraged” the U. S. although others were troublesome.
The Premier also spoke disparagingly of the “dissonant notes” that had been heard in the U. S. during the drawn out battle over the sale of AWACS reconnaissance planes and other advanced weapons to Saudi Arabia. “I won’t quote,” Begin said. “The things are well known. Let us just hope that the dissonant notes will cease, the friendship will continue and President Reagan’s pledges of October 28 (to ensure Israeli technological and military advantages) will be realized.”
EUROPEAN INITIATIVE DENOUNCED
In his Knesset address, opening a lengthy policy debate, Begin analysed the Saudi plan at length, dubbing it “a plan for Israel’s eradication in stages.” He noted the “worrying things that have been said … in the U. S.” (in support of the plan) and he warned “all who can read: watch out, you are playing with fire…”
As for Israel, he said, it utterly rejected the Saudi plan “from A to Z. It can never form the basis for any dialogue with Israel.” Israel would never negotiate with anyone on the basis of a scheme calling for its destruction” by withdrawal to the 1967 lines and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
The Premier also had harsh words for the “European initiative” and urged Britain’s Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington to stop “wasting your energies” canvassing the European Economic Community’s Venice declaration of 1980 among the Arab states. (Carrington will visit Saudi Arabia this week.)
Perhaps it was out of “imperialist atavism,” Begin said, that Carrington has “forgotten” that for any Mideast peace plan to succeed Israel must agree to it since Israel, though small, was 50 percent of the conflict in the area.
Begin insisted that the only plan that bound Israel was Camp David, which Israel fully intended to honor, on a reciprocal basis with Egypt. He also rejected categorically former Premier Yitzhak Rabin’s proposal that Israel demand a summit meeting between Begin, President Reagan and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to “reendorse” Camp David and the peace treaty. It was a fundamental premise of the law of nations, Begin said, that international agreements were signed by persons on behalf of their countries and the agreements’ validity was not affected by the fates of those persons.
But in the course of the debate, Rabin vigorously reiterated his position, calling again for a tripartite summit. He said the government appeared to have “no contingency policies” and was “carrying on business as usual” despite Israel’s steadily worsening situation.
PERES SAYS BEGIN WASTED VISIT TO U. S.
Shimon Peres, leader of the opposition Labor Party, said his party would willingly join in the proposed parliamentary delegation provided a “common basis” could first be formulated for the delegation’s line. He painted a grim picture of Israel’s international situation. He noted with the April deadline for withdrawal from Sinai approaching, both Arab and non-Arab states seemed to be uniting around the Saudi peace plan. This, he said, was “the hoary Arab positions dressed up a little … to pay pale lip service to Western public opinion.”
Peres accused Begin of devoting his September summit visit to Washington to “global strategy” rather than to the AWACS deal. The Premier should have pressed for U. S. pressure on the Saudis that they support the peace process. As it was, said Peres, the Premier’s visit went by “veritably unfelt.” He said the government may have preferred to dwell on “global issues” in its dialogue with the U. S. because it knew “that there can be no agreement or coordination with Washington on the basis of Herut’s program.
“There could be nothing worse than for the U. S. to agree with Israel about the Russians, and to agree with the Arabs about Israel,” Peres declared.