Peres Says Labor Will Seek to Prevent Resumption of Fighting

Labor Party chairman Shiman Peres said today that his party would do its utmost to prevent a resumption of fighting in Lebanon. He stressed however that it supported the original objectives of the “Peace for Galilee” operation.

Addressing a press conference in Tel Aviv, Peres said Labor would be satisfied if Israel achieved further political benefits from the war in Lebanon as long as the government worked for them “through political and not military means.” But under no circumstances would Labor join a national consensus for an attack on west Beirut to destroy the remnants of the Palestine Liberation Organization forces surrounded there, he said.

Peres’ remarks reflected the position adopted by the Labor Alignment’s political forum yesterday against continuing the three week-old war in Lebanon. Labor decided however to work through “parliamentary channels” to end the war. It rejected a proposal by MK Mordechai Gur, a retired general and former Chief of Staff, that the party launch a public campaign against the war now.

Peres refused to comment today on the various peace demonstrations of recent days. He said the Labor Party did not have to demonstrate because it would make its views clear in the Knesset.

GUR WANTS PUBLIC EXAMINATION

Gur, interviewed by Voice of Israel Radio, said the time was ripe for a public examination of the war, especially since the cease-fire which took effect Friday night appears to be holding. He said the Labor Alignment had originally supported the government’s stated objective in Lebanon, namely to secure a terrorist-free zone 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Israel’s border, He said that when Labor Party leaders Peres and Yitzhak Rabin met with Begin early in the fighting, they “were told that this indeed was the policy of the government.” But the war escalated for beyond the originally stated objectives and involved a military confrontation with Syria, against which Peres and Rabin had warned, Gur said.

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