Political Storm Brewing in Israel over Peres’ UN Speech

A political storm seemed to be brewing up here today over the peace proposals made by Prime Minister Shimon Peres in his speech to the United Nations yesterday. Acting Prime Minister David Levy (Likud-Herut) charged today that Peres had “seriously violated” the agreed policy guidelines of the national unity government.

Tehiya has presented a motion of non-confidence in the government. If a significant group of Likud MKs were to support this motion that could precipitate the end of the unity government.

Significantly, though, Deputy Premier Yitzhak Shamir and his party allies in Likud have preferred to hold their fire — which possibly points to discord within the Likud leadership echelon.

Levy, in a radio interview, said he objected to three points in Peres’ speech: While the Premier had called for “direct negotiations” with Jordan, he had “in the same breath” indicated a readiness to consider some form of international auspices for the talks; while the Premier had spoken of the Camp David accords as a possible basis for negotiations, he had declared himself ready to negotiate territorial concessions, which, in Levy’s view, ran contrary to Camp David; Peres, moreover, had held out the prospect of an interim or partial agreement which, again, according to Levy, was “a retreat from Camp David.”

Levy also took the Premier to task for have said on American television that he, unlike Likud, believed that the Jewish people did not have sole rights over Palestine. Levy said there would have to be “a profound and heart-searching debate” with Peres when he returned.

More significant, because less predictable, was the reaction today of Finance Minister Yitzhak Modai, leader of the Liberal Party wing of Likud. He asserted in Tel Aviv today that he would now allocate considerably more government funds to building Jewish settlements in the West Bank “because of the danger which now threatens” in the wake of Peres’ “international presentation.”

Noticeably absent from the chorus of hostile Likud reactions to Peres’ speech was the voice of Shamir. He is abroad for talks with the European Economic Community on agricultural exports, but his political allies within Likud have been markedly more moderate in their comments. Minister-Without-Portfolio Moshe Arens (Herut) said he could not understand, having read Peres’ text, “what all the fuss is about.” And former Cabinet Secretary, Dan Meridor MK, a close lieutenant of Shamir, could not point to any violation by the Premier of the coalition agreement.

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