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Dayan Publicly Criticizes Begin First Time Since Leaving Cabinet

June 5, 1980
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Former Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan ended eight months of public silence with a blast of criticism against Premier Menachem Begin and his government in the Knesset today. He specifically accused Begin of distorting his proposals for Palestinian autonomy to make it appear that Dayan advocated a weakening of Israel’s security in the occupied territories.

Dayan, who defected from the Labor Party in 1977 and joined Begin’s Likud-led government when it look office that year, resigned last Oct. 22. He retained his Knesset seat as an independent MK. Unlike Defense Minister Ezer Weizman who resigned on May 26 with a bitter attack on Begin’s policies, Dayan departed quietly and had little to say in public-about the government’s performance.

But today, his speech was fierce in tone and scathingly critical of the Premier. Dayan was incensed by Begin’s speech to the Knesset yesterday in which he claimed, among other things, that his former Foreign Minister wanted Israel to withdraw unilaterally from the West Bank and leave security matters to local Arabs. “How dare he (Begin) put such words into my mouth, things I never said?” Dayan declared.

He said that Begin had distorted, for the sake of argument, proposals Dayan had mode regarding the West Bank. Dayan said he had never suggested that a new target date for the autonomy talks with Egypt be set after the American Presidential elections. He said that when he called for the dismantling of the Military Government on the West bank he did not mean the withdrawal of Israeli defense forces, as Begin had implied.

Observers said today that Dayan’s Knesset speech marked the parting of the ways between him and the Likud-led government and the government has lost yet another influential supporter. Although he never joined Likud, Dayan continued to support the government on most issues after he resigned from the Cabinet. He hinted today that Begin’s attitude and policies were pushing him to vote with the opposition in the future.

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