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Knesset Rejects Likud Motion That Israel Should Renounce Its Agreement to U.S. Presence in Sinai

September 30, 1975
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Knesset voted 46-33 today to reject a Likud motion that Israel renounce its agreement to an American presence in Sinai under the terms of the Israeli-Egyptian interim accord. The vote followed a vigorous debate on the issue between Defense Minister Shimon Peres and Likud’s Shmuel Tamir during which Peres revealed that a Likud official had written privately to a prominent American Congressman contending that the American presence meant that American blood might be shed to protect Israel.

The dramatic disclosure obviously shocked many MKs as they listened in silence to the text of the letter Peres said was sent by David Nor, chairman of the “young guard” of Likud’s Herut faction, to a Congressman the Defense Minister declined to name.

The letter claimed that “most Israelis oppose the interim agreement which has been forced upon us by Dr. Kissinger.” It went on to allege that Kissinger was offering Israel “compensation” in the form of a large aid package and the American presence which was in fact “American lives to defend our lives.” The letter warned that American blood might be needlessly shed.

“I do not know whether this letter was approved by the authorized bodies of the Herut party,” Peres declared. “Nevertheless, even inexperienced politicians ought to know that this is no way to conduct a political argument.” Peres’ disclosure obviously caused acute embarrassment to Herut leader Menachem Beigin who left his seat to consult in whispers with his party lieutenant Haim Landau. Other Herut MKs seemed genuinely shamed by the revelation of the hitherto unpublished letter.


In his debate with Tamir, Peres strongly rejected the Likud insinuation that the government had asked for the American presence because it wanted “American boys” to defend Israel. He said the idea of stationing American technicians to man surveillance posts in Sinai was not an Israeli idea to begin with and that the Egyptians, too, favored it as a means of facilitating agreement on the new Sinai lines and surveillance in the complex Sinai passes region.

Tamir said the impression had been created with the American public that Israel had asked for the technicians for protection. Peres replied that while that might have been the initial impression, it has now been largely corrected and there was no need to revive the misapprehension. It was a distortion, Peres said, to refer to the U.S. presence in the idiom of “American boys.” He said that Israel never asked for American soldiers to defend her and is not asking for them now.

The Defense Minister noted that the American presence was less of an innovation than it appeared to be. American officers have been part of the truce supervisory forces since 1948 and in 1973 the Security Council voted to attach 36 American and 36 Soviet officers to the new United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in Sinai as observers. The Americans, moreover, took an active role in policing last year’s disengagement accord through aerial surveillance and this aerial role will now be carried out on the ground as well, Peres explained.

He quoted President Anwar Sadat and other high-ranking Egyptian officials to the effect that the American presence was desired by Egypt, that it facilitated the Sinai agreement and instilled confidence in both sides that the agreement would be observed. Egyptian officials have rejected as spurious any parallel between the American presence in Sinai and the situation in Vietnam a decade ago, Peres said.

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