JERUSALEM (Sep. 7)
Premier Shimon Peres angrily broke up the weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday and declared he would convene no other until Commerce and Industry Minister Ariel Sharon publicly retracts and apologizes for remarks implying that Israel’s pursuit of peace with the Arabs was a sign of weakness that triggered the Synagogue massacre by Arab terrorists in Istanbul Saturday.
Sharon, an outspoken Likud hardliner, said in a radio interview after the outrage in Istanbul, that “the unceasing pursuit of dubious and baseless peace plans at a time when our enemies are waging an unending war against us contributed to the weakening of the Israeli shield … and has exposed Jews abroad even more to Palestinian terror.”
“Yesterday’s (Saturday) murder left a ghastly impression on all of us. At the same time a Cabinet member indirectly and directly laid responsibility for the act on the (Israeli) government,” Peres said. A Cabinet statement released after the aborted session affirmed that the Premier insists on a retraction from Sharon.
Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who will take over as Prime Minister next month under the Labor-Likud rotation of power agreement, said he did not agree with or approve of Sharon’s statement, but it was “inconceivable” that it should trigger a coalition crisis.
“I can see no justification in this … this is not the time,” Shamir said, adding, “One must see everything in the proper proportion. I call on the Prime Minister to concentrate on the really important issues that confront us.”