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Report Eban Seeking Ban on Foreign Affairs Statements by Members of Cabinet

June 21, 1968
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Foreign Minister Abba Eban was reported today to be seeking a Cabinet ruling that would bar its members from making declarations on foreign affairs. Mr. Eban’s move came in the aftermath of Defense Minister Gen. Moshe Dayan’s reported assertion at a closed meeting of Labor Party Knesset members yesterday that Israel must not accept the United Nations Security Council’s Middle East resolution of Nov. 22, 1967 because it calls for Israel’s withdrawal to the armistice lines of June 4, 1967, the day before the outbreak of the Six-Day War. Gen. Dayan spoke off the record but his purported remarks were headlined in this morning’s press. Mr. Eban is expected to raise the question in the Cabinet.

Gen. Dayan was also quoted as having told the Laborites that the Arabs saw the Nov. 22 resolution as an opportunity to force Israel from all occupied lands and that it would have been better to have made a quick settlement with them. The Foreign Ministry today took sharp issue with Gen. Dayan’s reported interpretation of the resolution. A Ministry spokesman said, in reply to questions, that no international forum had ever interpreted it that way nor had its sponsors, which included Britain and the United States. But Gen. Dayan’s reported remarks have already had political repercussions. They are expected to be the subject of heated discussion at a meeting in Tel Aviv today of the Labor Party secretariat.

Those members of the secretariat affiliated with the Mapai and Achdut Avodah factions in the Labor Party are expected to take Gen. Dayan to task for his remarks even though he specified that they were off the record. Some party members have already complained that the “leak” to the press was intentional and designed to create a rift between the three factions within the Labor Pary — Rafi. Achdut Avodah and Mapai.

In Tel Aviv today, the political committee of Mapam, the leftist labor party, denounced Gen. Dayan’s alleged interpretation of the Nov. 22 resolution as foreclosing peace talks with the Arabs. Mapam’s reasoning was that since Israel accepts the resolution but does not accept withdrawal prior to a peace treaty. Gen. Dayan’s “presentation of the Security Council’s resolution as a demand to withdraw to the June 4, 1967 borders undermines the Government’s struggle and sabotages efforts to explain Israel’s position.”

Today’s furor over Gen. Dayan’s alleged remarks was the second time in barely two months that the Nov. 22 resolution seemed on the verge of precipitating a Cabinet crisis. Israel’s public acceptance of the resolution as the basis for peace negotiations sparked a controversy within the Government in May. Several ministers, lead by Herut Party leader Menachem Beigin, charged that it constituted a reversal of Israel’s policy not to withdraw prior to a peace agreement with the Arabs. But Mr. Eshkol and Mr. Eban succeeded at the time in convincing the Cabinet that there was no such reversal.

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