In Jerusalem on Monday (20 February), the Israeli Cabinet began a debate on whether or not to push ahead with Jewish settlements on Arab land in the face of hostile foreign opinion.
GV EXT: Knesset in Jerusalem.
SV INT: Israeli Cabinet entering Knesset.
CU: Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin speaking in English, and newsmen taking notes. (2 SHOTS)
SVs: Demonstrators with banners outside the Knesset. (2 SHOTS)
SV: Deputy Prime Minister Yigael Yadin answers questions in English.
BEGIN:"The cabinet again debated the political issue,and the question of settlement. But we didn't sum up the debate, for two reasons. I wanted every minister to express his opinion. A great number did so, but quite a serious number of members of the government didn't have the opportunity to take part in the debate, and we have the opening of the 29th Zionist Congress this afternoon. And it was obvious that we will not reach the point of summing up before the Zionist Congress starts. Therefore about 2 o'clock I decided to interrupt the debate, and postpone it until next Sunday."
There were demonstrators near the Knesset while the Cabinet was meeting. The settlement issue had become a major point of argument, and Deputy Prime Minister Yigael Yadin was questioned by reporters.
REPORTER:"Mr. Yadin, you have lately voiced some ideas, which might provide a solution to the Israeli settlements in northern Sinai via-a-vis the Egyptian demands. What is your view in this quest?"
YADIN:"Well, the government's view is as submitted in the peace proposal of Israel, which I believe can settle the problem. However, what I said was that if during the negotiations the Egyptians will come with the suggestion, that in order to solve this problem some modifications in the border will take place, let's say by swapping areas between Egypt and Israel, I said I personally, and this is not necessarily, and at all the stand of the government, I personally would support such a view."
During the Cabinet meeting, the main argument was believed to have been between Defence Minister Ezer Weizman and Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon. As a leading negotiator in the so-far fruitless negotiations with Egypt, Mr. Weizman has seen at first hand the size of the obstacle presented by Jewish settlements, particularly in the Yamit area of northern Sinai. Mr. Sharon, who heads the Ministerial Committee on Settlement, is a fervent advocate of mass Jewish settlement in the land of Israel as defined by the Bible, an area that includes large stretches of Arab land seized by Israel in 1967. Specific details of the debate, however, were not disclosed. A cabinet communique just said the settlement issue was discussed.
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Background: In Jerusalem on Monday (20 February), the Israeli Cabinet began a debate on whether or not to push ahead with Jewish settlements on Arab land in the face of hostile foreign opinion. Most government ministers joined in the discussion, but after five and a half hours, several had not managed to speak, so Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, adjourned the debate until Sunday (26 February).
SYNOPSIS: The Cabinet met at the Knesset in its role of the Ministerial Defence Committee, a device which legally restricts disclosures about their discussions.
After the adjournment Prime Minister Begin was asked how the meeting had gone.