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New Bombshell in Israel: Rabin Launches All out Political War Against Peres

August 10, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Former Premier Yitzhak Rabin launched yesterday an all out political war against his long-time rival, Labor Party chairman Shimon Peres. In a new book, whose first two chapters were to be published this week by Moariv, Rabin accuses Peres as “constantly undermining” his rule, at all costs. Details of the new book were publicized last night by Israel Television.

Rabin wrote that Peres was determined to become Premier, and for that goal, everything was permissible; including leaking to the press of state secrets. According to Rabin, this reached a climax when the local press publicized the story of a secret visit by Soviet emissaries.

Rabin wrote that he regarded the leak with grave concern, and ordered an investigation among civil servants. When no one was found responsible for the publication, Rabin summoned both Peres and Deputy Premier Yigal Allon, who suggested that they all undergo a lie detector rest to see if any of them was responsible for the leak.

“Peres became as white as the wall,” wrote Rabin. “He said he did not find it suitable for a minister to undergo such a test, and said he would refuse to do so in principle. Allon and I exchanged glances, and I knew there was no need to have a test,” Rabin wrote.

Rabin, in the book, entitled “Service Record,” disqualified Peres from serving as Israel’s Premier on the grounds that he was never a soldier. Rabin recalled that he did not consider Peres the suitable candidate for Defense Minister in his Cabinet, but was forced to appoint him by the implied threat of the ex-Rafi wing that it would not support the government unless Peres was appointed minister.


In an interview with Israel TV last night, Peres said he had served in the Hogana, the Israel Defense Force and the defense establishment from his early youth. He said he had been one of the men inducted into the IDF, at its very inception, by the first Chief of Staff, Gen Yaacov Dori. “My number was easy to remember,” Peres said. “It was 54466.”He said he had started out as a commander of a unit, and ended up 27 years later as Minister of Defense.

Peres noted that the element of revenge was sometimes much stronger in political autobiographies than the historical record, “but I am sure that the truth will come out one day. . . He added: “. . : I am at peace with myself. My memory is intact.”

Rabin alleged in the book that “53 hours after the Air France airliner was hijacked to Entebbe (Airport in Uganda in July, 1976) Peres had not fulfilled the minimum requirement of a Defense Minister, to ascertain from the commanding officers the military options.” But Peres had a totally different version:”. . . I am happy that on the eve of the operation, Rabin joined in the decision to carry out the raid, and the Cabinet approved it.”

On the illicit Rabin Washington bank account, which finally brought him down. Rabin wrote that six-months before the account was exposed, a “well-known” Israeli journalist had informed one of his aides that certain circles in the Labor Party knew of the account and planned to use it to discredit him. These circles even sent an investigator to Washington. Rabin ignored the warning, and this was, he wrote, his “tragic mistake.”

Peres said he thought the book would do its author a great deal of harm, and indicated that Rabin must realize that if Peres ever became Premier, he would not make a place for Rabin in his government. Rabin, in his book, said that he would never want to serve under Peres as Premier.

Peres expanded the verbal battle this morning with a declaration in Yediot Achronot that it should be remembered Rabin was ousted as Premier not because of any action by Peres but because of the discovery of the Rabin bank account in Washington. The controversy revived the situation of 1976 when the issue of the Labor Party’s leadership was also Peres versus Rabin. Some sources said Allon might emerge as the central figure in the Labor Party because of the bitter public clash between Rabin and Peres.


“Observers agreed that the Rabin charges had left Israelis bewildered and wondering who was running Israel and who could run Israel. Israelis were troubled by an ailing, though recovering Premier Menachem Begin, and an ailing Cabinet in which personal and ideological rifts repeatedly sparked fights between the ministers, a situation publicly criticized by Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan earlier this week.

Even the Labor Alignment opposition, seeking to capitalize on the disarray in the ruling Likud and even maneuvering to move up the elections in that hope, was obviously split by internal disputes.

The Israeli public had scarcely absorbed Dayan’s sweeping charges of incompetence in the Begin government, when the Rabin blasts were publicized by television. Rabin, currently in Bucharest, is not expected to be back in Israel before late tonight. Asked by telephone about Peres’ counterblast, Rabin refused to comment on any aspect of his charges against Peres.

The Labor Party leadership held a closed meeting this morning and the leaders decided to impose a total news blackout on their discussions. It was learned, however, that some of Peres’ supporters wanted Rabin ousted from the party leadership, and ousted immediately. Their argument was that the situation was a tumor that must be cut out and the sooner the better. But other Labor leaders said the party should try to dampen down the dispute rather than let it grow in ferocity. Some of the leaders expressed deep regret that Rabin chose this time to cast aspersions at the party when it was making excellent progress in emerging from its crisis.


The newest rift came after months of efforts by Labor leaders to rehabilitate the party after it lost power in 1977 to Likud after uninterrupted control from the start of the State. The party appeared to have accepted Peres’ leadership. Even Allon, who had been considered a candidate for the party’s leadership, soon accepted Peres as leader. But Rabin remained silent until the television report made clear his total rejection of the Peres party leadership.

Rabin’s supporters, coming to his defense, cited a statement in the memoirs of Moshe Sharett, who served as both Foreign Minister and Premier, that he lacked confidence in Peres. But the main criticism of Rabin involved not ideology but his personal attack on Peres.

Other speculation centered on Dayan, with some observers saying that his criticism of the present government suggested he was ready for another major move, including the possibility of his rejoining the Labor Party, or a bid to lead a new party which, given the rifts in the two major parties, might emerge as a strong political grouping.

Meanwhile, many Likud ministers said they felt that the Rabin-Peres squabble could not have come at a better time, in view of Dayan’s stinging criticism of the government. Some felt that the Labor Party’s preoccupation with. Its own Pandora’s Box of troubles would prevent it from being a real threat to the Likud government. Mapam, a partner in the Labor Alignment, was maintaining a careful watch on the developments arising out of Dayan’s criticisms and Rabin’s book.

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