TEL AVIV (Nov. 18)
Labor Party chairman Shimon Peres accused Likud today of launching a “smear campaign” against Labor on the basis of a two-part column published in the New York Times this week.
Peres said at a press conference that Likud ministers and spokesmen are accusing Labor of stabbing Israel in the back and inviting foreign intervention in its affairs because the Times’ editorial page editor, Max Frankel, referred to “opposition spokesmen” who were allegedly urging the Reagan Administration to cut U.S. aid to Israel as the only means of ousting Premier Menachem Begin’s government.
Frankel, in statements to the Israeli media, has denied that his reference was to Peres. He refused to say who his sources were for the column. Frankel spoke with both government and opposition members during a visit to Israel last week. Peres denounced “Likud’s ongoing smear campaign… an attempt to besmirch the Labor opposition … character assassination.”
Labor spokesmen, noting Frankel’s reference to “opposition leaders,” pointed out that the opposition in Israel covers a broad political spectrum from the Communists to the center parties. Peres said he had indeed spoken to Frankel, at the suggestion of the Foreign Ministry whose representative was present throughout the interview.
Former Foreign Minister Abba Eban said he also met with Frankel and, on the same day, gave an interview to Newsweek magazine in which he urged the U.S. not to use economic pressure or any form of coercion to effect changes in Israeli policy.