Sharon, in L.A., Denies Provoking Crisis
Israeli Cabinet minister Ariel Sharon said Sunday that the Israeli government crisis is over and denied that he deliberately touched it off to topple the coalition led by Prime Minister Shimon Peres.
Sharon, making his first public appearance since the crisis threatened to topple Israel’s so-called national unity government last week, told reporters in Los Angeles that he supports the coalition between his Likud Bloc and Peres’ Labor Alignment.
The hard-line Cabinet official, here on the first leg of a three-week speaking tour of the United States, also refrained from repeating earlier criticism of Peres--words that resulted in Peres’ threat to fire him last week--but repeated his opposition to any territorial compromise that might result from secret contacts with King Hussein of Jordan.
‘With Unparalleled Cynicism’
Although he told Likud supporters in the Israeli city of Haifa last Monday that Peres had acted “with unparalleled cynicism, with disregard for every accepted administrative norm” in his efforts to advance the peace process, Sharon said Sunday that he expects the coalition to stay in power through 1988.
“I believe the crisis in the Israeli government is over,” he said.
The 1984 coalition agreement calls for Peres to switch jobs with Likud’s leader, Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, next October.
Some reports from Israel suggested that Sharon may have precipitated the crisis to topple the government, giving him a chance to challenge Shamir for leadership of Likud at a convention in January.
Sharon, a retired general and former defense minister who is now minister of trade and industry, dismissed that as “just speculation.”
He said there was “nothing personal” in his disagreement with Peres.
‘I Didn’t Say That’
“One thing you must understand is that peace cannot be achieved and cannot be preserved by making endless concessions,” Sharon said. But when asked if he was suggesting that Peres was too willing to make concessions, he replied: “I didn’t say that.”
The government crisis was resolved after Sharon released a terse reply to Peres’ demand for an apology on six points raised in Haifa. In his reply, Sharon denied making some statements and was conciliatory on other points.
The charges leveled by Sharon in Haifa were that Peres has been holding secret talks, that Labor’s policies have cost Israel blood, that Peres was leading the government “down a twisting road,” that Peres purposely failed to rule out talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization, that Peres’ policies were endangering peace with Egypt and that Sharon’s call for the expulsion of the PLO from Jordan before talks could begin was met with “cynicism.”