JERUSALEM (Oct. 26)
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin delivered a somber warning this week to the Arabs not to miss the opportunity for peace offered by his government.
Rabin spoke at the opening of the parliamentary winter term Monday in an atmosphere heavy with grief as the nation mourned the death of six soldiers in terrorist action the day before in Lebanon and the West Bank.
Addressing a full house, the prime minister singled out Syria and the Palestinians in projecting a scenario of wasted chances.
He said Damascus had not yet signaled acceptance of the basic terms put forward by Israel for an exchange of land for peace on the Golan Heights.
At the same time, some among the Palestinians remained trapped in the “all or nothing” mold that had proven so misguided and costly for them over the years.
Speaking amid an escalating wave of violence in the territories, Rabin warned the Palestinians he would come down hard on continued terrorism.
“Don’t say you were not warned, that you did not understand,” he cautioned them from the Knesset podium.
Rabin referred to the Israeli bombardment of Hezbollah bases in Lebanon on Monday when he spoke of the terror attack that killed five Israeli soldiers and wounded five more in Lebanon the day before. He told the Knesset: “Our forces at this moment are in action in Lebanon.”
NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE POSTPONED
The opposition Likud called off a scheduled motion of no confidence protesting the appointment of a large number of deputy ministers. Party officials said the debate was not appropriate on a day when six young men were being buried in military ceremonies around the country.
The Rabin government had expected to win the vote without difficulty. Its major test is to take place next Monday, when the opposition Orthodox parties are to put forward no-confidence motions attacking controversial statements made on religious issues by Education Minister Shulamit Aloni, who heads the Meretz bloc.
But talks behind the scenes may resolve the crisis before the vote next Monday, political sources say. The Council of Torah Sages of the Shas party is scheduled to meet Sunday to decide how Rabin’s ultra-Orthodox coalition partner should cast its six parliamentary votes.
Rabin told the parliament Israeli readiness to withdraw “in the Golan, not from the Golan” was predicated on Syrian readiness for full peace.
“We will not negotiate borders,” he said, “unless Syria is ready to sign a full peace treaty, including open borders and diplomatic relations.”
He said a peace treaty with Syria must stand “on its own two feet,” separate from progress in the negotiations with other Arab delegations.
Syria as of now “has not expressed willingness to undertake these conditions,” he said, adding that negotiations would continue, but “on Israel’s terms.”
Although Golan Heights settlers have criticized government willingness to relinquish territory on the strategic plateau, the prime minister praised them as “front-line fighters on the peace front — there are none better.”