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Begin Criticizes Netanyahu for Contacting Palestinians

July 1, 1996
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has clashed with a Cabinet minister who claimed that the new premier was too left- wing.

The incident fueled media speculation that Science Minister Ze’ev “Benny” Begin, a member of the premier’s Likud Party, would resign from his post when the government held official contacts with the Palestinians.

Begin’s criticism of the premier came after Netanyahu’s foreign policy adviser, Dore Gold, met secretly last week with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

On Sunday, the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot reported that Begin planned to leave the government as soon as official talks with the Palestinians took place.

But Likud sources this week denied rumors that Begin planned to step down from the Cabinet over the government’s contacts.

Begin criticized the Gaza Strip meeting between Gold and Arafat, the first meeting between the Palestinian leader and an official representative of the new government.

At last Friday’s Cabinet meeting, Begin said he was not happy that the ministers had not been consulted before the Arafat meeting was held.

Begin added that the government’s guidelines allowed for contact with the Palestinian Authority, but only if the Palestinians meet their commitments under the peace agreements with Israel.

Recently, questions have been raised about whether the Palestinians have combated terrorism in a manner that complies with the accords.

Netanyahu reportedly replied that the dialogue was in accordance with the guidelines and that if Begin had objections, he should have considered them before joining the government.

Begin kept silent on the matter Sunday.

Likud sources and officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said Begin and Netanyahu had patched things up.

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