The Israeli Parliament began to debate on Monday (June 19) the long-awaited cabinet reply to America's two questions on the future of the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
GV EXT Israeli Knesset
SV Prime Minister Begin and Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and other cabinet ministers seated round table
SV CU Defence Minister, Ezer Weizman
GV Cabinet meeting in progress
GV Cabinet ministers leaving the meeting
GV Mr. Begin leaving and getting into car
Former Foreign Minster Abba Eban, now a member of the Labour opposition party, told a radio interviewer later that he did not believe the reply to the U.S. questions would satisfy the United States. Mr. Eban said he now expects the United States to formulate peace proposals of its own.
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Background: The Israeli Parliament began to debate on Monday (June 19) the long-awaited cabinet reply to America's two questions on the future of the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The document, was agreed on at the third attempt by 14 of the 19 member cabinet. The formula, tabled by the Prime Minister, Mr. Menachem Begin, said that discussions on the future of the occupied territories should not begin until the end of the five years of self-rule.
SYNOPSIS: The meeting at the Israeli Knesset in Jerusalem on Sunday (June 18) was reported as a triumph for Prime Minster Begin over recent cabinet unrest. The reports said he secured solid ministerial backing for a vaguely worded compromise reply to the U.S. government. Political sources told Reuters news agency that there was one important dissenting vote by Defence Minister, Mr. Ezer Weizman, who had campaigned for a more positive reply. Four ministers belonging to the Democratic Movement for Change voted for a compromise of their own.
The Israeli Cabinet has spent three sessions debating the two American questions on the future of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The U.S. roving Ambassador, Mr. Alfred Atherton, had said the answers required agonizing Israeli decisions, but none of the ministers would comment after the meeting. However reports said Mr. Begin appeared cheerful after the meeting in spite of rumours of his failing health and his possible resignation. Mr. Begin's compromise formula was immediately transmitted to Washington for the United States government's consideration as to whether the response could serve to revive the stalled negotiations on Middle East peace.