JERUSALEM (Oct. 17)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir stated flatly Tuesday that he would risk a confrontation with the United States sooner than talk with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Addressing the Likud Knesset faction, Shamir forecast a period of tension with Washington.
The United States, he said, is trying to get Israel out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and into negotiations with the PLO.
It is hard to predict whether the Americans will back down, as they have in the past, in which case Israel’s relations with the United States would remain as they are, Shamir said.
But if the Americans refuse to back off, relations would change for the worse. “We wish to avoid a confrontation, but we will not give in — not even for the United States,” Shamir asserted.
He said Likud would not take the initiative to break up its coalition with the Labor Party, but would act to block efforts by Labor to form a new, narrowly based coalition under its leadership.
Shamir rejected a proposal by Knesset member Uzi Landau that he forbid Vice Premier Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin to travel abroad.
According to Landau, the two Labor Party leaders are not reconciled to a Likud-led government and create “political turbulence” for it.
Shamir told him a travel ban would spell the end of the coalition.