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Peaceniks Demonstrate in Jerusalem

May 23, 1978
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Several hundred supporters of the Peace Now movement demonstrated outside the Prime Minister’s Office during yesterday’s Cabinet meeting and heckled ministers as they left the premises after their five-hour session . The demonstrators had assumed, mistakenly, that the Cabinet was discussing key questions posed to Israel by the United states several weeks ago seeking clarification and further details of Israel’s peace plan.

But the Cabinet deferred consideration of that matter to a later date. Meanwhile, Peace Now leaders met with a group of American Jewish leaders who support their aims, among them Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, former president of the American Jewish Congress, and Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Assembly of America, the rabbinical branch of Conservative Judaism in the U.S. According to press reports, both men offered to raise funds for the movement in the U.S. or to help the Peace Now leaders raise funds themselves.


The Peace Now advocates encountered a powerful foe in former Premier Golda Meir who denounced them yesterday during a festive meeting of the Labor Party in Tel Aviv honoring her on the occasion of her 80th birthday. Mrs. Meir, who has maintained public silence until now in the political debate over the Begin government’s peace policies, claimed that the Peace Now supporters were naive and did not in fact know what they want.

She said she could not understand the thinking of such people and asked whether any of them could guarantee that their children would grow up in peace if their policies were adopted. According to Meir, any peace agreement signed with President Anwar Sadat of Egypt would become worthless if Sadat’s successor decided to tear it up.

She criticized the Begin peace plan for being too generous in offering to return all of Sinai to Egyptian sovereignty–albeit with extra-territorial rights for Israeli settlers–and called for a permanent buffer zone between Israel and Egypt embracing the Gaza Strip and the Rafah salient of Sinai. She said she would never withdraw from the Golan Heights and observed that no previous government would accept Arab demands for Israel to return to its 1967 borders.

Meir insisted that she was for peace, but not necessarily now and not with any deadline “like a sword looming over any Israeli government. “Meir said she would like to meet with Peace Now members to hear their ideas. Leaders of the movement said later that they would seek a meeting with her and also with Shimon Peres, leader of the opposition Labor Alignment, to sound out Labor’s attitude toward their views.

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