Divergent Views on the PLO Voiced by Cabinet Ministers

Sharply opposing views on the government’s policy toward the Palestine Liberation Organization were expressed by two Cabinet ministers on an Israel Radio interview program over the weekend.

Industry and Trade Minister Ariel Sharon, a Likud hard-liner, and Science and Development Minister Ezer Weizman, a Laborite dove, seemed to represent diametrically opposed views in the Likud-Labor coalition government.

Weizman maintained Israel has no choice but to talk to PLO chief Yasir Arafat.

Sharon insisted there can be no peace in the Middle East as long as Arafat is alive.

But he blamed his own party leader, Prime Minister Yizhak Shamir, for failure to end the Palestinian uprising and hinted that Shamir and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin should resign.

“For 14 months, this security failure, perhaps the worst in our history, has been going on This is liable to lead to a dangerous situation — the establishment of a PLO state in the heart of Israel,” Sharon said.

“And no one is resigning, no one is being sacked and nothing is being investigated,” Sharon added.

He seemed to be recalling his own forced resignation as defense minister following an investigation of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila refugee camps massacre during the Lebanon war.

Weizman, who also formerly served as defense minister, said, “My evaluation today, and I am not alone, is that the only one we can talk to is the PLO leadership, with Arafat at its head.

“If Shamir does not sit down with Arafat, a different leader will have to sit with Arafat,” Weizman said.

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