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Peres Threatens ‘Divorce’ with Likud if Cabinet ‘Doesn’t Support Peace’

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Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres on Tuesday threatened a "divorce" between his Labor Party and its Likud partner in the national unity government, if Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir does not take advantage of the momentum generated by current Israeli-Egyptian exchanges on the peace process.

"We will not support the government if it doesn’t support peace," Peres said. He stressed, however, that his main priority is to put life into the peace process, not to break up the unity government.

Speaking of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s recent proposals to advance the Israeli peace plan, Peres said. "We will judge everything according to the government’s attitude toward this initiative."

Peres, who also holds the finance portfolio in Israel’s Cabinet, made his remarks in response to a question raised by one of about 80 members of the Hollywood film industry participating in a breakfast meeting of the Entertainment Division of the United Jewish Fund here.

Earlier Tuesday, Peres held a lengthy telephone conversation with former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, in which Peres emphasized that the 10-point peace plan put forward by Mubarak is as important for what it leaves out as what it says.

Not mentioned, for instance, are demands for the establishment of a Palestinian state or a return by Israel to the 1967 borders.

Shultz said the Egyptian initiative represents a real advance toward peace, which he regretted had not been taken during his tenure as secretary of state.

Another question during the breakfast meeting was raised by veteran movie actor Kirk Douglas, who said he was "perplexed" by the "Who Is a Jew" controversy in Israel.

With some emotion, Douglas said the he had made four movies in Israel and that he "had been dragged to this meeting by my son Peter, who is half Jewish.

"This controversy is draining the strength of Israel," Douglas declared.

Peres responded that he accepts as a Jew any person who feels he is a Jew. "We’re not a race or religion, but a fusion of history, tradition and moral code," he said.

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