Peres Accepts Apology, Ends Cabinet Crisis : But Warns He’ll Fire Sharon if He Persists in Attacking Policies

From Times Wire Services

Prime Minister Shimon Peres today accepted a terse, one-page apology from Cabinet member Ariel Sharon and withdrew a threat to break up his government. But he also warned that he will fire Sharon if the Cabinet minister criticizes government policy again, a spokesman said.

Peres and Yitzhak Shamir, leader of the right-wing Likud bloc, met this morning, and a Peres spokesman said they agreed only that they hope an incident like the Sharon affair “will never happen again.”

Shamir insisted that a Cabinet minister can be fired only by agreement of the coalition, meaning that his (Shamir’s) approval would be required.


Couldn’t Be Anticipated

But the Peres spokesman said the prime minister told Shamir that the coalition agreement signed last September, after national elections failed to give one of the sides a parliamentary majority, could not have anticipated Sharon’s ferocious attacks.

“If any minister will say things like (Sharon said), the minister will be fired on the spot,” the spokesman quoted Peres as telling Shamir.

As Peres demanded, Sharon, 57, explained his accusations against the prime minister, which included charges that secret talks have been under way between Peres, Jordan and the Palestinians.

Sharon’s ‘Clarifications’

Sharon offered what he called “clarifications” of six remarks for which Peres had demanded apologies. Sharon denied having made one of the remarks at issue, said he had already apologized Wednesday for two others and said he was misunderstood on a fourth.

The 57-year-old former defense minister said he accepts Peres’ explanation that Israel will reject any role for the Palestine Liberation Organization in peace talks with Jordan. He said he will also accept the decision of the Cabinet majority that talks can be held with Jordan despite the PLO presence there.