NEW YORK (May. 15)
The leader of a right-wing party in Israel’s Likud-led coalition government has warned that his two-seat faction will quit the government if territorial compromise is on the agenda of peace talks.
But Agriculture Minister Rafael Eitan of the Tsomet party said in an interview that he does not believe Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir will agree to discuss giving up land for peace.
Likud, whose coalition controls 66 of the 120 Knesset seats, is threatened with the defection of at least seven seats and the loss of its majority should Israel enter into peace talks leading to the withdrawal from land captured in the 1967 war.
Some dovish members of Knesset from the Labor and other left-of-center parties have offered to prop up the Likud government with their seats if the small, right-wing parties withdraw over this issue.
Eitan also rejected the idea of offering Palestinians in the administered territories some measure of autonomy, saying they already have a state and government — in Jordan.
“I don’t believe they need any government — they have a state in Jordan. The majority of the population in Jordan are Palestinians,” said Eitan, a former Israel Defense Force chief of staff.
Eitan spoke in English and Hebrew, aided with occasional translations by his wife, Miriam.
Autonomy, or limited self-rule, has been promoted by some Israeli officials as a compromise between Palestinian demands for independence and Israeli desires to retain control of the administered territories.
But Eitan said he would not support self-rule for the Palestinians on “Israeli soil.”
“If they want a government, they can establish one in Tunisia, or on the moon, or Jordan or in the Himalayas,” he said. “But not on Israeli soil.”
Eitan, whose visit to the United States was timed to coincide with the English publication of his book, “A Soldier’s Story” (Shapolsky Publishers) dismissed the idea of negotiations with the Palestinians.
“What is there to talk about with them?” he asked.
ENCOURAGING ARABS TO EMIGRATE
While all sides have been eager to give at least the appearance of movement toward negotiations, Eitan flatly denied that any positive steps had been made.
“There is no peace, no process of peace. There never has been any peace,” said Eitan.
He called for expanding Jewish settlements in the administered territories, applying Israeli rule to the areas where Jews live and encouraging Palestinians to move to Arab countries.
Although Eitan said his party does not support compulsory “transfer” of Palestinians out of the administered territories, “I think they should be encouraged to emigrate on their own will,” he said.
He said such encouragement should come through economic pressure, both by bettering the economic situations in Arab lands, and making is more difficult for Palestinians from the territories to work in Israel proper.
Eitan also said he believes Israeli annexation of the West Bank is inevitable.