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June 01, 1990 - Image 37

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-06-01

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Israel Correspondent


any this week, two
reports — one secret
and unexpected, the
other public and long an-
ticipated — hit the Israeli
political scene like a one-two
The secret report, leaked
to the mass circulation daily
Yediot Aharonot, came from
the Israeli ambassador in
Washington, Moshe Arad,
and warned of a potential
"disaster" in American-
Israeli relations unless
Prime Minister Yitzhak
Shamir revives his peace
plan. The public report,
prepared by a committee of
Labor Party activists, put
the blame for Labor's recent
election defeats squarely on
the shoulders of party leader
Shimon Peres. Taken
together, the two documents
could well affect the make-
up and policies of any future
According to the Yediot ac-
count, which was not denied
by official sources, Ambas-
sador Arad warned the
Prime Minister that "Israel
is facing a grave crisis in its
relations with Washington,
something that requires a
reevaluation of principle
elements of its policy, espe-
cially matters which are
controversial, primarily the
peace process and set-
tlements [in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip]." Arad cau-
tioned that recent events,
including the effort to estab-
lish an Israeli stronghold in
the St. Johns hospice in
Jerusalem's Christian
Quarter, are costing Israel
support in Congress, and
causing concern among
"friends in the Jewish com-
munity, who watch with
alarm as Israel loses support
which it has enjoyed for
Arad's warning comes as
Shamir is attempting to put



Two reports a secret one from Washington and
a public one from Israel — give insight
into why another unity government
might be formed in Jerusalem.

together a hawkish coali-
tion, some of whose members
are explicitly opposed to the
Shamir peace plan. The
warning was viewed by
Likud circles as an effort to
warn of the consequences of
such a nationalistic govern-
ment. The ambassador, who
is a career diplomat not

identified with any party,
made this point clearly. "If,
after the establishment of a
new government in Israel,
the Americans reach the
conclusion that [Jerusalem]
is not planning to continue
the peace process, the U.S.
administration will return,
with full momentum, to the

idea of an international
peace conference," he re-
portedly told the Prime Min-
Publicly, government offi-
cials attempted to downplay
the report from Washington.
Cabinet Minister Ronnie
Milo, one of Shamir's closest
advisers, told the press that

the warning was overstated.
"I don't believe that there is
a crisis," he said. "This is a
period of non-decisions [be-
cause of the formation of a
new government]. Our rela-
tions with the United States
are good, and they will con-
tinue to be good, even if
there are sometimes dis-
This sanguine assessment
was disputed, however, by a
number of Israel's leading
analysts and diplomats. Tsvi
Rafiah, a well known expert
on American affairs, warned
of an impending showdown
if there is not a radical
change in Israeli policy.
And, according to Shimon
Shiffer, the reporter who
published the leaked cable,
it represented not only the
ambassador's own opinion,
but "the collective wisdom
and experience of the entire
embassy staff."
While the Prime Minister
and his advisers mulled over
the implications of the warn-
ing from Washington, their
colleagues in the Labor Par-
ty were forced to deal with a
less secret, but no less in-
cendiary, report presented
by a committee of party ac-
tivists. According to the
group, which was charged
seven months ago with the
task of investigating Labor's
1988 electoral defeat, the
party lost primarily because
of the failures of Shimon
Peres and his inner circle.
The report specifically cited
Peres's decision to base the
campaign on his own appeal
to voters, rather than on the
ideology of the Labor Party.
Although the Labor com-
mittee refrained from direct-
ly calling for Peres to resign,
some of its members were
less circumspect. Dr. Yoram
Less, who headed the panel
until his resignation, under
pressure, less than 24 hours
before the report was pre-
sented, made it clear that
the party leader should step
down. "I must say that the



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