JERUSALEM (Apr. 23)
Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said on television Wednesday night that he would seek new elections on the peace issue if necessary.
Peres said he was “sure” that Jordan would enter into direct negotiations with Israel following an “international opening” of a peace conference with the participation of all parties concerned within and outside the region.
His advocacy of an international conference for Middle East peace has brought him into open conflict with Premier Yitzhak Shamir. He was assailed by Likud Thursday for allegedly implying that Shamir was anti-peace.
PERES ATTACKED BY ARENS
Peres came under sharp attack from Likud Minister Moshe Arens who accused him Thursday of partisan pursuit of a policy (an international conference) which has not been approved by the Cabinet.
The Vice Premier said he hoped dissolution of the Labor-Likud unity coalition government and early elections could be avoided. There may well be Likud Ministers who would support an “international opening” followed by direct negotiations, he said.
Peres recalled that a ranking Likud leader, Deputy Premier and Housing Minister David Levy, broke with his party three years ago to vote with Labor for withdrawal of the Israel Defense Force from Lebanon and for the economic austerity program. Levy’s stock in the party declined when Shamir was unanimously re-elected leader at the Herut convention earlier this month.
LABOR, LIKUD SHOWDOWN PENDING
Peres has said he intends to present his proposals to the Cabinet which could precipitate a showdown between Labor and Likud. He did not say when, but most observers believe he will make his move when he returns from a visit to Washington he is scheduled to make in two weeks.
Peres said in his television interview that the political leadership is not likely to be affected by reports on Israel’s involvement in the Jonathan Pollard spy case, due to be submitted in the next few weeks.
The matter is under separate investigation by a two-man committee of inquiry appointed by the Cabinet and by the Knesset’s special intelligence subcommittee. The latter began drafting its findings this week and expects to complete the task some time next month.