Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin said on Monday (24 July) that if it became impossible to produce a Middle East peace pact, then Israel would try to settle for informal and friendly relations with its neighbours.
Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin said on Monday (24 July) that if it became impossible to produce a Middle East peace pact, then Israel would try to settle for informal and friendly relations with its neighbours. Speaking to the Knesset (Parliament) at the end of an angry debate, Mr. begin repeated that Israel sought full peace treaties with secure borders and diplomatic relations.
SYNOPSIS: The debate began with Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan reporting on last week's talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ibrahim Kamel and U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. He said that Egypt had insisted that, after the implementation of a peace agreement, no Israel soldiers or Jewish settlers would remain on the Jordan West Bank or in Gaza. And he added that neither Israel nor Egypt had modified their basic policies during the discussions.
He also said that, despite recent reports, Egypt had showed no sign of favouring the opposition Labour Party's call for a territorial compromise, that is, a partial Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza. According to Mr. Dayan, the Egyptian position was still that Israel should quit all Arab territory captured in the 1967 war, except for minor border changes.
The debate continued, after angry shouts, with an address by the opposition Labour Party deputy leader, Yigael Allon. The Labour Party has attacked Mr. Begin over the past week, questioning his mental and physical health -- charges that the Prime Minister has complained about, saying nothing like it had happened anywhere in the world. Now, the Labour opposition plans to present a motion of no-confidence in Mr. Begin. This is expected to come up for debate on Wednesday (26 July).
In his speech, Prime Minister Begin said that if it proved too difficult or impossible to reach a peace treaty, Israel would agree to work towards what he termed peaceful relations. Though Mr. begin repeated Israel would not return parts of Sinai to Egypt, as part of a one-sided goodwill gesture, he revealed he was willing to discuss mutual concessions that would form a permanent agreement. As the debate continued, there was a call from Mr. Allon for Mr. Begin's resignation.