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Partisan Discord on Peace Process Erupts in Knesset, Inner Cabinet

Red-faced Labor and Likud ministers exchanged sharp accusations Wednesday, in what eyewitnesses called one of the ugliest confrontations ever seen in the weekly session of the Inner Cabinet.

Partisan discord also carried over into a special recess session of the Knesset, where Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir defended Likud’s position by saying any attempt to set up an independent Palestinian state in the territories will be suppressed “with an iron fist.”

During the Inner Cabinet session, Shamir and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres were reported to have faced off, waving their arms.

Peres, who heads the Labor Pary, charged that the Likud has opposed every proposal for peace, including the 1979 treaty with Egypt and the withdrawal from the war in Lebanon.

“You are supporting the Arab stand,” countered Shamir, who leads the Likud bloc.

“The truth knows no boundaries,” said Peres, adding he would not be moved from his belief in peace.

“But there is a limit to the lies you can tell,” Shamir retorted.

At the Knesset, member Gadi Yatziv of the left-of-center party Mapam asked when the government would realize it would achieve nothing by detentions, deportations and the demolition of Palestinian houses.

CALL FOR TALKS WITH PLO

He urged the Labor Party to adopt the Yariv-Shemtov formula, which would allow negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization if the PLO renounced terrorism.

“It is the Palestinian people whom we fight against and with whom we should make peace,” said Yatziv.

But Shamir said there was a national consensus against negotiations with the PLO, which he described as “a murderous organization bent only on Israel’s destruction.”

Shamir said that Israel would continue to administer the territories, whether King Hussein’s decision to sever ties with the territories was “tactical or strategic.”

Shamir also dismissed international calls for self-determination for the Palestinians as “hypocritical, phony and meaningless.”

Israel is committed to the Camp David process, he said, but warned that unilateral commitments preventing Israel from annexing Judea, Samaria or the Gaza Strip “cannot last for ever.”

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