Peres Hits Back at Shamir

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres hit back Sunday at Premier Yitzhak Shamir and other Likud Ministers who accused him of trying to influence American Jews to support an international conference for Middle East peace, an issue that has sharply divided the unity coalition government.

Peres was assailed by Likud for remarks he made at a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York last week in favor of an international conference. He was accused of inviting outside intervention into an internal dispute over foreign policy and security.

Peres said at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting that the Likud Ministers had not bothered to read the text of his remarks to the American Jewish leaders. He and his Labor Party colleagues insist he did nothing more than urge them to involve themselves in the debate over a peace conference and made clear that the Israeli government was divided and had reached no decisions.

Peres also informed the Cabinet that Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze had assured him at their meeting in New York September 23 that the USSR has no interest in placing “artificial barriers” before those who want to leave the Soviet Union.

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