Israel moved toward a separate peace treaty with Egypt at a dizzying pace yesterday, as the parliament began its debate - perhaps the most evenful in the nation's 30-year-history - on the Camp David peace agreements.
Prime Minister Menachem Begin, in a somber but forceful speech, placed a clear choice before members of the parliament in a special session; either accept Eygptian President Anwar Sadat's prerequiste of withdrawal of Jewish settlements from the Sinai Peninsula or reject peace.
"The moment has arrived. This is one of the great events of our generation. After 30 years which saw five wars, bloodshed, bereavement and orphanhood, we have arrived at the moment when we can, with very difficult sacrifices, sign a peace treaty with an Arab nation with over 40 million people," Begin said.
The Knesset is expected to vote Wednesday night or Thursday, and renewed talks with Egypt could begin immediately after to resolve practical details before the signing of a peace treaty. Begin said a treaty establishing normal relations could be signed before the end of the year.
In his speech interrupted frequently by shouts from the scattering of legislators opposed to the accords.Begin also reaffirmed his contention that the Camp David agreements call for only a brief freeze on the establishment of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Referring to the contrasting interpretations between U.S. officials and himself on new West Bank settlements. Begin said he had promised to freeze new settlements only during the estimated three months needed to conclude a peace treaty with Egypt. President Carter has contended the pledged moratorium was to extend through the planned five years of negotiating the future status of the West Bank.
Begin said that Saturday night he Foreign Minister Moshe Davan and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman examined all the notes and documents from Camp David and concluded that Begin's interpretation is correct. He said he will write a letter to Carter this week informing him of his conclusion. Begin added that existing settlements in the occupied West Bank would be expanded with new Jewish settlers.
Begin's speech was followed by one by Labor alignment leader Shimon Peres, who also endorsed the peace accords, saying, "We must risk for the sake of peace as we risked in war."
While Peres - presumably for practical political reasons - broadly criticized what he termed mistakes in the peace policy of Begin's Likud government, he ungrudgingly singled out Begin for praise.
"I congratulate the Cabinet, the prime minister of Israel for the difficult decision, but essential decision . . . to go forward to new directions in the Middle East," Peres said.
The expected majority of Labor's 30 votes and the Likud coalition's 70 votes - coupled with the bulk of the National Religious Party's 12 votes and some scattered independents - assures the government of a comfortable majority for its peace proposals and the removal of the Sinai settlements, which are being considered as a package.
While a vote Sunday of the Labor Party's central committee appeared to assure a bloc vote in favor of the government, former Labor foreign minister Yigal Allon told the party yesterday that he had been "deceived" about the terms of the agreements and would press for a reconsideration if a party meeting tomorrow morning. "Begin's victory is expected to be so decisive that some members of his party are beginning to talk of calling for new elections to broaden the prime minister's base in parliament - possibly to the point of a government majority without coalition for the first time in Israel's history.
Likud coalition Chairman Halm Corfu said he expects between 90 and 100 of the members to vote for the accords. Both the Democratic Movement faction and the Shai Party - the remnants of the 15-member Democratic Movement for Change - have voted to support the government.
Begin reportedly has decided to enforce party discipline during the vote, ensuring that members of the traditionalist Laam wing of Likud will have to vote for the government or quit it.
Although Begin said at Camp David that party discipline would not be exerted, Likud sources pointed out that at the time the government had planned to submit the peace agreements and the Sinai settlements issues separately. Combining the issues into a single motion, they said, necessitated coalitionn discipline.
In the freewheeling of Israeli politics, opposition voices were raised loudly during Begin's speech yesterday, mostly impromptu heckling from the political extremes of the Knesset.
Geula Cohen, an ultranationalist member of Begin's party and an old comrade of his in the underground guerrilla Irgun during the days of the British mandate in Palestine, interrupted the prime minister's speech repeatedly, shaking her fist and demanding Begin's resignation.
As Knesset Speaker Yitzak Shamir pounded his gavel and begin shook his head and muttered, "Horrible, horrible," Cohen berated the premier for 15 minutes. Other members shouted both encouragement and denunciation of the outburst.
Finally, an exasperated Shamir called for a vote to eject Cohen from the chamber and, when only two members raised their hands in her support, she left, saying, "I respect the Knesset. I do not respect the prime minister. I do not think he brings peace . . . He brings about the partition once again of the state of Israel."
Begin remained unruffled, however, saying once, I know there are disputes, a lack of consensus. But let us respect one another . . . In the meantime, may I please finish the sentence."
When Laam's Moshe Shamir pounded his fist on his desk. Begin calmly said, "I think the desk before you are for writing, not knocking . . . I know there are differing opinions, so why the impatience?"
When interrupted by shouts from Communist Meir Wilner and Tewlik Zayyad, Begin said, "I read many articles in Pravda, so why do I have to listen to you?"
To Zayyad, mayor of Nazareth, Begin promised there "will be no plebiscite" in the West Bank and Gaza strip "and there is and will not be under any conditions or in any circumstances a Palestinian state."
When the Communists begin shouting at him, Begin for the first time appeared to lose his temper, declaring "Since the days of the Naziz there has not arisen an organization as barbaric and anti-human as the so-called PLO.
"The murderers' organization known as the PLO is not and will not be a factor in the negotiations . . . because this is an organization that intends, supposedly, to annihilate the state of Israel - it will never know this day," Begin said angrily.
He said, however, that PLO sympathizers would be allowed to take part in a West Bank governing council "if they behave properly. But they won't be able to sit there if they disturb the peace in Israel."
Begin said he had agonized over his decision on the Sinai settlements. "This is a very painful matter," he said, "but today, as I well know, we are faced with the following choice: to accept the resolution as the government will offer it . . . or that negotiations on a peace treaty will be completely done away with. This is the choice. Those are the two possibilities. There is no third."
Only a small group of settlement supporters showed up at the Knesset to protest yesterday, but last night scores of demonstrators tied up traffic in downtown Jerusalem with a motorcade and march from the King David hotel to the Old City and the Western Wall. The demonstrators, from settlements in the Sinai, West Bank and Golan Heights, used tractors to back up traffic for blocks.