An Embittered Weizman Defends Reported Contacts with the PLO

Ezer Weizman seems as embittered toward his Labor Party colleagues as he is over the accusations leveled by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir about his alleged contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Weizman, a Laborite who has often publicly urged that Israel talk to the PLO, insisted he was working for the state and for peace.

Now he is being pilloried by Likud and deserted by his own party, Weizman told Yediot Achronot in an angry interview published Tuesday.

Shamir fired Weizman at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, to take effect 48 hours later. But just before the deadline Tuesday, he relented, presumably to save the unity coalition government.

A deal was struck whereby Weizman left the important policy-making Inner Cabinet of senior ministers, while remaining in the government as minister of science and development, a portfolio with little influence on affairs of state.

In the interview, Weizman sharply questioned the two documents on which Shamir said he based his decision to dismiss him.

He also made clear to Yediot Achronot that he felt let down by Vice Premier Shimon Peres, the Labor Party leader, and the party’s No. 2 man, Defense Minister. Yitzhak Rabin, who is said to have engineered the compromise.

The prime minister read a prepared statement to the country Sunday night accusing Weizman not only of maintaining contacts with the PLO, but of “schooling them” on how to deal with Israel and the U.S. government to “undermine our peace plan.”

HELPED PLO ACCEPT BAKER PLAN

The first document is the transcript of a report to the PLO in Tunis by its Geneva representative, Nabil Ramlawi, about a conversation he had with Weizman at a Geneva hotel.

The second is the transcript of a telephone conversation between Weizman and Dr. Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli Arab gynecologist who was in Tunis attempting to mediate between Israel and the PLO.

Tibi asked Weizman to advise him how the PLO should react to U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s five-point proposal for an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.

Weizman said he asked Tibi to hold the line while he consulted with Peres, who was listening to the conversation on another extension.

Then he told the Palestinian, “The PLO should accept the five points and add constraints, if necessary, as Israel itself has done.”

According to Weizman, he conveyed to the PLO exactly what he was told by Peres.

“In that telephone conversation, I helped the PLO accept the five points and enabled the peace initiative to continue. But now it has been decided to turn me into an enemy of the people, into a traitor,” he said.

Weizman called Peres “a son of a bitch who now knows from nothing.”

He was equally harsh on Rabin, who, he said, knew all of the conduits and contacts.

The encounter in Geneva, according to Weizman, was not as described by Shamir. He said he had one, not two meetings with the local PLO representative, Nabil Ramlawi, in the hotel lobby, not in his room.

He is alleged to have told Ramlawi that Shamir might be flexible on the Gaza Strip, but not the West Bank, “because facts have already been created on the ground.”

“All that I did was in order to help the country, not to harm it,” said Weizman. “Today it’s clear to me that the carcasses in my party won’t defend me.”

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