JERUSALEM (Aug. 19)
Premier Shimon Peres told the Knesset Security and Foreign Affairs Committee today that the existence of the national unity government could be in jeopardy if the government fails to take decisive action on several issues.
This was Peres’ first expression raising doubts as to the survivability of the unity government. In recent weeks several ministers and other leaders of the Labor Party raised similar doubts, but Peres remained quiet on the issue.
His remarks today came amid growing tension between the Labor and Likud parties especially on such issues as the Taba dispute with Egypt; the current attempts to expand the Jewish presence in the Arab quarter of Hebron; relations with Egypt; and the joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation proposed for talks with the United States.
WARNS ANOTHER WAR COULD ERUPT
Peres issued a stern warning to the Knesset committee that another round in the Arab-Israeli war could break out if the peace process continues without reaching some conclusion. “If the Arab world realizes within a given period of time that there are no prospects for a settlement,” Peres said, “a new war oriented Arab coalition may be formed, a result of Arab despair. We must prevent such a coalition, we must prevent the phenomena of despair and disappointment.”
According to Peres, this also applies to Egypt. He said that all Israelis — regardless of their political leanings — will regret the failure of improving relations with Egypt. It was in this context that Peres warned that a political freeze might put in question the existence of the national unity government.
QUOTES REPORT BY MURPHY ON THE PLO
Peres, meanwhile, quoted a report by Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, who said that Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat was willing to accept United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which could be interpreted as an indirect readiness to put an end to terrorist attacks against Israel.
But, Peres added, the PLO was not ready to undertake an explicit commitment to put an end to its terrorist activities. Moreover, he said that the PLO and its leaders are constantly occupying themselves with terror. “The purpose of the PLO today is to shatter the myth of stability in Israel,” Peres said.
On the other hand, Peres saw a significant change in the position of King Hussein of Jordan. He said the Jordanian King was now ready for negotiations although results were not promised as a precondition to negotiations.
Murphy was here for meetings last Thursday with Peres and other senior Israeli officials. Murphy said he did not meet with Palestinians while in Amman, according to Israeli sources. He did meet with King Hussein of Jordan and also Egyptian officials during his tour last week of the Mideast.