TEL AVIV (Jun. 22)
Three powerful Likud ministers who oppose Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s peace plan won resounding support at a gathering of party members here Wednesday night.
Ariel Sharon, David Levy and Yitzhak Moda’i announced their intentions to seek amendments to the plan when Shamir presents it to the Likud Central Committee on July 5.
Sharon, who chairs the Central Committee and is minister of industry and trade, said the changes he advocates would eliminate the “dangers” he thinks are inherent in Shamir’s proposals.
The initiative, which Shamir and his allies have been promoting vigorously at home and abroad, calls for Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The voters would select delegates with whom Israel would negotiate an interim period of self-rule in the territories, to be followed by negotiations to decide their final status.
Shamir insists that the plan, approved by the Cabinet and the Knesset, constitutes national policy and cannot be altered. But he agreed, reluctantly, to discuss it before the Likud Central Committee.
Sharon claims the plan would lead to the creation of a Palestinian state and the redivision of Jerusalem.
His views are shared by Levy, a deputy premier who is also minister of construction and housing, and Moda’i, leader of Likud’s Liberal Party wing and minister of economics and planning.
END OF UPRISING AS PRECONDITION
Their strategy is to kill the plan by amending it rather than a yes-or-no confrontation, which Shamir is likely to win.
The changes which Levy outlined to the party faithful seem calculated to make the initiative totally unacceptable to the Palestinians and to raise suspicions among Israel’s friends abroad over the sincerity of its intentions.
They will demand that the Palestinian uprising be “completely stopped” before the diplomatic process can begin. They insist that Arab residents of East Jerusalem be denied the right to participate in the elections.
They want Israel to reject outright any freeze of settlement activity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and to rule out, in advance of the negotiations, the possibility of “another Palestinian state between the sea and the Jordan River.”
According to the Likud party line, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a Palestinian state.
Speakers at the Likud meeting denounced what they called Shamir’s attempt to “bulldoze the Central Committee” to accept his plan without debate.
The three ministers claimed that 1,300 of the party faithful attended the meeting. Reporters present put the attendance closer to 700. The Central Committee has nearly 2,000 members.