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January 12, 1990 - Image 36

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-01-12

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36

FRIDAY, JANUARY 12, 1990

Shamir Attacked On All Sides
For Handling Of Weizman Affair

HELEN DAVIS

Foreign Correspondent

T

here is widespread
speculation that Israel
will have to replace
some of its most senior intel-
ligence agents in Europe
because their cover was
blown during last week's po-
litical crisis over Science
Minister Ezer Weizman's
contacts with Palestine Lib-
eration Organization offi-
cials.
The 48-hour crisis, the
most serious since the na-
tional unity government was
established in 1984, was
defused when Prime Min-
ister Yitzhak Shamir
withdrew his threat to fire
the maverick minister after
Weizman agreed to leave the
inner cabinet for 18 months,
but remain in the govern-
ment.
The row erupted after
Shamir revealed that Weiz-
man had engaged in a series
of illicit contacts with PLO
officials. Such encounters
contravene the policy of the
national unity government
as well as a 1986 law which
prohibits contacts between
Israelis and PLO officials.
According to a report in
the respected London Sun-
day Telegraph, Weizman
had been under surveillance,
both at home and abroad, for
some time, during which
Israeli agents had monitored
his telephone calls and ob-
tained secret PLO reports on
his contacts with PLO offi-
cials in Europe and the Mid-
dle East.
In order to support his
assertions — and his
threatened action, which
came perilously close to cap-
sizing the national unity
government — Shamir
quoted extensively from in-
telligence documents, which
detailed a telephone conver-
sation and meetings bet-
ween Weizman and PLO of-
ficials abroad.
Senior executives of the
Mossad, Israel's foreign in-
telligence agency, and the
Shin Bet, Israel's domestic
intelligence agency, are
reported to be furious
because they believe that
key agents have been com-
promised by the revelations.
They are said to be par-
ticularly incensed that
Shamir leaked transcripts of
a meeting last June between
Weizman and Dr. Nabil
Rimalwi, the PLO represen-
tative in Geneva.

They are also angry that
Shamir leaked transcripts of
a telephone conversation
between Weizman and a
PLO official in Tunis. The
PLO contact has been iden-
tified as Dr Ahmed Tibi, who
has previously served as an
intermediary between the
PLO and Israeli officials on
humanitarian issues.
Despite the political com-
promise which was patched

Minister Weizman:
Not denying them.

together last week, Shamir
refused to withdraw his
charges and Weizman has
made little effort to deny
them.
He admitted meeting
Rimwali briefly and unex-
pectedly in a hotel lobby in
Geneva after being in-
troduced by an Egyptian en-
v o y , but the leaked
transcripts indicated that
the meeting in fact took
place in Rimwali's car,
where the two men made
elaborate arrangements to
use code-names in their con-
versations.

According to the
transcript, they agreed to re-
fer to Israel's Labor leader
Shimon Peres as
"Laromme," while the PLO
headquarters in Tunis was
to be known as "Manage-
ment."
Weizman also acknowl-
edged receiving a call from
the PLO's Tunis head-
quarters seeking his counsel
on the PLO's response to the
five-point proposal for
Israeli-Palestinian talks
proposed by U.S. Secretary
of State James Baker.
The quick-tempered, ear-
thy former commander of
the Israel Air Force boasted
that his advice had led to the

PLO's qualified acceptance
of the Baker plan.
At the same time, Weiz-
man implicated Peres in the
contacts, claiming that the
Labor leader had helped him
coach the PLO officials on
how to respond to the United
States initiative.
"The son of a bitch was on
another telephone to me at
the time — and now he
doesn't remember it,"
Weizman is widely quoted as
telling a stormy meeting of
Labor colleagues.
It is generally believed
that Shamir initiated the af-
fair to underline his
implacable opposition to
negotiations with PLO
members in advance of this
month's scheduled meeting
in Washington between Sec-
retary Baker and the foreign
ministers of Israel and
Egypt.
In case the message was
lost, the point was em-
phasized by Yossi Ahimeir, a
senior Shamir aide, who
declared: "Today it is clear
to the Egyptians and the
Americans — and anyone
else who wants to know —
that the PLO is not a partner
for negotiations."
The tripartite talks in
Washington are intended to
deal arrangements for a dia-

(

Premier Shamir:
Maintains charges.

logue between Israeli and
Palestinian officials in Cairo
regarding proposed local
elections in the occupied
West Bank and Gaza Strip to
elect Palestinians who will
negotiate an autonomy
agreement with Israel.
Shamir is insisting that
only Palestinian residents of
territories who are not af-
filiated with the PLO can

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