JERUSALEM (Dec. 25)
The government easily defeated a no-confidence motion presented in the Knesset by the ultra-nationalist Tehiya faction yesterday over its refusal to support a proposed bill to annex the Golan Heights. The vote was 56-2 with 42 abstentions by the opposition MKs.
The failure of Tehiya MK Geula Cohen’s motion had been a foregone conclusion following the Cabinet’s decision Monday not to back her Golan measure. The overwhelming margin was achieved with the cooperation of the Labor Alignment, which decided to abstain, but not before angry confrontation within its own ranks on the Golan issue.
Former Foreign Minister Abba Eban explained why the Labor Party would not vote against the government in this instance. “Whatever our general attitude to the government should be, under no circumstances would the (Labor) Alignment faction give the slightest support for a motion of no-confidence in this specific context, Eban said.
INTERNAL LABOR PARTY DEBATE
The generally doveish tone of his remarks provoked the anger of Labor’s hawkish elements who called for an urgent meeting of the Alignment’s Knesset faction. A bitter internal debate ensued which reached a climax in a fierce exchange between hardliner Amos Hodar and doveish Yossi Sarid. The faction stood by its decision to abstain, although the Golan issue clearly divides the party which hopes to topple Premier Menachem Begin’s government in next year’s elections.
The Likud-led coalition stood fast against the no-confidence motion. Justice Minister Moshe Nissim said the Cohen bill “would have done more harm than good” and observed that “the time is not ripe to take such a step.”
Yehuda Ben-Meir of the National Religious Party said there is no need for special legislation accuse Israel would never give up the Golan Heights. He attacked Eban for maintaining that Israel should keep its options open with respect to the Golan, implying that it be used as a bargaining point in future peace negotiations with Syria, just as Sinai was used in negotiating the peace treaty with Egypt. “We reject every comparison between the Sinai and the Golan Heights just as we reject every comparison between Sharm el-Sheikh and Jerusalem,” Ben-Meir said.
DAYAN’S WEST BANK PROPOSAL ALSO DEFEATED
In another action yesterday the Knesset defeated an agenda motion by former Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan proposing that Israel apply its autonomy plan to the West Bank unilaterally and without seeking the prior consent of its inhabitants. Begin vehemently opposed the motion urging the Knesset not to undertake “dangerous one-sided experiments” that deviated from the Comp David accords. The measure was defeated by a vote of 53-37 with three abstentions.
It was the first significant parliamentary initiative, by Dayan since he resigned from the government in October, 1979. He said he proposed it because of the slow progress in the autonomy talks and his concern that the Egyptians and the new American Administration might come up with worse alternatives. The vote sparked a minor revolt in government ranks. Likud MKs Ehud Olmert, Zalman Shoval and Itzhak Peretz voted for Dayan’s proposal despite Begin’s exhortation. They were joined by NPP dove David Glass.