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Cabinet Rejects Reagan’s Mideast Plan Which It Calls a Deviation from the Camp David Agreements

September 3, 1982
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel’s Cabinet summoned into special session by Premier Menachem Begin, rejected unconditionally today President Reagan’s call for a “fresh start” in the Middle East peace process and defied one element of the President’s plan by announcing that Israel would continue to set up settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Begin interrupted a vacation in Nahariya, in response to President Reagan’s nationally-televised speech on his “fresh start” plan, to convene the Cabinet for its bristling rebuff to the President. The Israeli press predicted an imminent new low in American-Israeli relations.


The statement Issued after the Cabinet meeting, read by Cabinet secretary Dan Meridor, called the Reagan plan a blueprint for suicide for Israel and said it was inconceivable that Israel could ever accept it.

The President repeatedly stressed the United States commitment to Israel’s security as he called for a halt to Israeli settlements in the occupied area as an essential element to the creation of trust by the Palestinian inhabitants in Israel’s commitment, in the Camp David accords, to autonomy for the Palestinians.

In an apparent effort for a balanced position, Reagan said the United States would not accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and equally would not accept Israeli annexation of the disputed areas.

Reagan proposed, as a possible alternative, some kind of linkage between the occupied areas and Jordan, which had seized the West Bank in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, and lost it to Israel in the Six-Day War.

The Cabinet statement said the positions relayed to Begin in Reagan’s name, a reference to a letter the President sent to the Premier Tuesday, much of which was leaked in Israel, ignored or contradicted the Camp David accords. The content of that letter was spelled out by the President in his televised address last night.


The Cabinet statement said that “since the positions of the United States government deviate to a serious extent from the Camp David accords, contradict the accords, and are liable to cause a serious danger to Israel, to its security and future, the government of Israel decided that, on the basis of these positions, it will not enter any negotiations with any element.” Reagan reiterated last night that, for his government, the Camp David accords were the only possible framework for peace talks.

The Cabinet statement continued: “The government of Israel is ready to resume without any delay the autonomy talks with the governments of the United States and Egypt — the signatories to the Camp David accords — as well as with other countries and elements which were invited to participate in the talks.”

The statement specified the areas which, in the Cabinet’s view, contradicted the Camp David Accords. These included the status of Jerusalem –which the President said should remain undivided, with its final status subject to negotiations — the settlements freeze proposal, the autonomy-Jordan proposed linkage, and the handing of control of security to the Arabs in the territories for the period of autonomy.

Begin was understood to be working on a formal reply to Reagan’s letter and to the “fresh start” plan, on the basis of the Cabinet’s decisions.


At the Cabinet session, Begin reportedly said Reagan’s plan was worse then the plan U.S. Secretary of State William Rogers posed in the early 1970’s which called for “insubstantial” border changes in Israel’s borders. Begin quoted former Premier Golda Meir who said at the time that anybody who would accept the Rogers plan would be a traitor. “The same policy should apply to whoever adopts the Reagan plan,” Begin said.

The Cabinet said that if the Reagan proposal had been implemented “nothing would have prevented King Hussein (of Jordan) from inviting his new friend, Yasir Araft,” chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, “to come to Nablus and tell him; rule. This would have become the Palestinian state which would have allied itself with the Soviet Union, and arming itself with all modern weaponry. The PLO did that in Lebanon, creating a state within a state. Why would there be anything to prevent the PLO from doing the same in Judaea and Samaria?”

Meridor, indicated that the ministers were unanimous in rejecting the Reagan proposals. There was no immediate public comment from Begin, who was scheduled to meet later today with visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.


Deputy Premier David Levy said the eventual outcome of implementation of Reagan’s “fresh start” would be a Palestinian state even if that was not the Reagan Administration’s intention.

He said the Reagan proposals were a deviation from the Camp David Accords and Israel would not be a party to the “distortion” of those accords. He charged that the President’s plan was “one-sided and anti-Israel.” He stressed Israel was not seeking a confrontation with the United States but rather was trying to avoid one.

Tourism Minister Avraham Sharir expressed disappointment that the Reagan Administration did not consult with Israel prior to the President’s speech last night, especially since the Reagan Administration did consult with Jordan, which Sharir described as “an ill-fated move.”

The President said nothing last night, about an approach to Jordan in the many talks with Arab diplomats Secretary of State George Shultz has had since taking office, particularly after it became over whelmingly clear that Israel was determined to drive the PLO and its terrorist allies out of Beirut.

Interior Minister Yosef Burg, who was in New York Thursday, told a jointly sponsored leadership conference of the World Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America, that Reagan’s plan is clearly “a deviation and departure from the letter and spirit of the Camp David agreements.”

Burg, who has been the head of the Israeli delegation to the autonomy talks with Egypt, said the status of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and Gaza Strip “is absolutely not included in the Camp David agreements.”

Yitzhak Berman, the Energy Minister, called the Reagan initiative on “error,” not necessarily because of its components but because Reagan was trying to determine now possible solutions which should be discussed only after the interim five-year period of autonomy.

The Camp David accords provided for creation of conditions for free elections in the West Bank and Gaza of officials to exercise governmental authority for five years of self-rule, after which negotiations would be held on the final disposition of the territories.

Berman said Israel and Egypt had the right to define the fate of the territories after the five-year autonomy period but that the Reagan Administration, by trying to do so now, was losing its credibility as an “honest broker.” He did not clarify this remark but it was seen as reference to the fact that Reagan had moved from being a mediator in the Mideast peace process to being a participant in determining its course.


Ministers at the Cabinet session criticized Shimon Peres, the Labor party chairman, who visited the United States last month. The ministers charged that in recent meetings with Reagan Administration leaders, Peres contributed support, to the Reagan Administration decision to seek to link the occupied areas in some form with Jordan.

The Labor Party promptly issued a response saying it would not be “tantalized” by the attempts of Begin’s Likud party to “smear” the Labor Party’s name. The Labor Party statement said that it had presented its own peace plan, advocating a settlement with Jordan over the West Bank, at the time it was in power and that it continued to stand for that plan now when it was in the opposition.

“The demagoguery attempts of the Likud leaders indicate a basic lack of understanding of the substance of democracy and of the fact that the Israeli society is an open society,” the Labor Party declared.

Shevah Weiss, an Alignment member of the Knesset, said the Reagan plan indicated support for the Allan plan, a reference to a proposal by the late Labor Foreign Minister Yigal Allon, under which Israel would have withdrawn from sections of the West Bank heavily populated by Arabs but maintaining an Israeli security belt along the Jordan River, plus pockets of Israeli security forces near Israeli population concentrations, meaning the Jewish settlements.

Victor Shemtov and Imri Ron, leaders of Mapam, said the Reagan plan had “positive elements” and should be examined seriously. Similar positive reactions came in from smaller leftist parties.

Haim Druckman, a National Religious Party Knesset deputy, called on the Begin government to prove through “action” that it rejected the Reagan proposals, specifically, by annexing the Arab territories.

The Reagan plan was also criticized by the Israeli ministers because it was presented to Israel without prior consultation, while the Reagan Administration did consult with Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.


The first Arab reaction came from an Egyptian official, Saad Mortada, Egypt’s Ambassador to Israel. Speaking on the Voice of Israel, Mortada said the Reagan initiative indicated a positive trend by the Administration towards a solution of the Palestinian problem.

He said the Reagan initiative might lead to resumption of the autonomy talks, which have been in a state of suspension for some three years. As its latest condition for resuming the talks, Egypt has demanded Israel’s total withdrawal from Lebanon.

A spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in Cairo refused to react to the Reagan plan, on grounds that the Egyptian government was now “reviewing the plan.”

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