Israel's Likud Party, which won a plurality in last Tuesday's election, today offered a compromise whereby a Likud-led government would agree not to annex or change the status of the occupied territories on the West Bank of the Jordon River without first seeking a fresh mandate in new elections.
The offer was to Yigael Yadin and his Democratic Movement for Change in an effort to bridge the differences between the two parties in the hope of forming a broad coalition, according to Zalman Shoval, a member of the Likud executive.
Shoval said, Likud also told the Democratic Movement that, although the law allows any Israeli government to impose Israeli law on the occupied territories, a Likud government would not do so as long as there were peace negotiations with the Arabs and not in any case without the specific authority of (Parliament).
Likud's platform states that the occupied West Bank should remain under Israeli sovereignty. The Democratic Movement opposes annexation and would barter parts of the West Bank for peace.
The compromise, which Shoval described as a "Clarifi- cation of the Likud's position, would allow both parties to stick to their principles because a coalition government would promise to "go to the people" before making any changes on the West Bank.
The suggested compromise was made with the full authorization of Likud's leader Menachem Begin, who according to Shoval, is anxious to "change the climate" of dismay and hostility that his election victory and some of his remarks about the West Bank have created here and abroad.
Begin's statement that the West Bank is rightfully Israeli territory was widely seen as threatening the U.S. hope for real progress toward a negotiated Middle East settlement by the end of 1977.
Shoval, who is a candidate for foreign minister in the new government, said in an interview today that Likud should not be judged solely on Begin's recent remarks made in the first emotional flush of victory.
"There are two Begins," he said, one a thoughtful and practical realist and the other a public speaker who can respond to his audience like an actor. Begin, might believe that the West Bank rightfully belongs to Israel, he added, but so did the late David Ben-Gurion, who was willing to forego parts of the land on which Israel makes a historical claim in deference to political realities.
Nothing that Likud had agreed to negotiate with the Arabs without pre-conditions, Shoval said:
"Within the framework of a final, binding peace agreement, any party that has said it is willing to negotiate without prior conditions cannot rule out some, compromises with primary aims."
The difference, he said, would be that if Likud ever had to give up territory on the West Bank it would be giving up something that rightfully belongs to Israel rather than returning something belonging to the Arabs.
Begin, 64, who had a severe heart attack two months ago, was not able to attend the nogotiating session. He was admitted to hospital yesterday suffering from what his doctors describe as overwork and fatigue. His condition today was described as good and his release is expected at the end of the week.
Except for East Jerusalem, previous Israeli governments have not annexed territory captured in the 1967 war and have treated them as occupied or "administrated" territories.
The Democratic Movement believes that Israel's defense line in the east must be the Jordan River and, unlike the Labor government, it is against any interim agreements and would give up West Bank territory only for real peace.
The Democratic Movement, a new party that came in third in last week's election, based its appeal on a program of reforms in government.
Today's negotiating session with the Democratic Movement dealt only with defense and security, and another session is planned for Thursday. Yigael Yadin told reporters that the negotiations were held in "good spirit" but that it was too early to predict the results. Still to be faced is the Movement's demand that new elections be held within two years on the bais of a reformed electoral system.
Wednesday Likud is to begin negotiations with the National Religious Party, with which, according to Shoval, there is an understanding that neither will join in a coalition without the other.