Former defense minister Ezer Weizman, who angrily resigned from the Cabinet this week said today that he shares many of the views of former foreign minister Moshe Dayan, apparently opening the door to an alliance of centrists to challenge Prime Minister Menachem Begin in next year's election.
At a meeting with foreign correspondents here, Weizman said he was consulting regularly with Dayan, who resigned from Begin's government last year in a policy dispute over issues similar to those that led Weizman to resign. Weizman said he feels his and Dayan's views are very close.
He said that for the time being he intends to remain in Begin's Herut Party, which is the nucleus of the ruling Likud, but he declined to say whether he will run on a ticket headed by Begin in the 1981 elections.
More significantly, Weizman advocated changes in Israel's handling of the West Bank-Gaza Strip autonomy negotiations that paralleled Dayan's views on almost every point.
Weizman endorsed Dayan's long-standing proposal to implement autonomy unilaterally in the occupied areas. And, as Dayan has so often done, he questioned Begin's sincerity in seeking a peaceful solution to the Palestinian question.
In the meantime, the Liberal and Democratic party partners in Begin's coalition met again today in a fruitless effort to resolve their dispute over Begin's plan to transfer Foreign Minister Yitzhad Shamir to the Defense Ministry to replace Weizman. Begin also planned to move Energy Minister Yitzhad Modai to the Foreign Ministry and shift Minister Without Portfolio Moshe Nissim to the energy department.
Begin is expected to announce at Sunday's Cabinet meeting that he will temporarily assume the defense portfolio until a compromise can be worked out among the feuding coalition partners.
It is unlikely that the three Democratic Movement Party ministers will quit over the issue -- for fear that early elections would cause their party to disappear in defeat. But the National Religious Party is holding firm against the portfolio reshuffle since its leaving the government would assure its collapse.
Weizman has been engaged in a bitter exchange of personal attacks with Begin since resigning abruptly last Sunday. Today, he sought to cool the tone of the exchange but spelled out in more detail than before his differences with Begin over the handling of the Egyptian-Israeli negotiations.
"Is there a complete, sincere belief in the Egyptians by Israel, by the authorities in Israel, in the sincerity of the peace? Or are there doubts? There are doubts. Why can't they [the Begin Cabinet] have more trust?" Weizman asked at one point.
Asked what the government should do to move the stalled autonomy talks forward, Weizman replied, "Attitudes, attitudes. I don't think there is an attitude of a real wish of something to do . . . The whole attitude could be better."
He said that two years ago Egyptian President Anwar Sadat appeared to understand Israel's stated need to retain settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but that as time passed without any movement toward an agreement on other issues, Egypt adopted a tougher stance on the civilian outposts.
"Camp David is not an attempt to find a solution. Read it again. Camp David is the result of the will to agree between two leaders, that they want to tackle this problem and see the status of today changed," Weizman said.
"Mr. Begin said he will, to use a terrible word, consider the annexation of the Western Bank and Gaza. I've heard him say so . . . and he said if anyone declares a Palestinian state, he'll go and arrest them. I've heard him say so. But Mr. Begin did not sign on a paper . . . that at the end of a five-year [transition] process the law of Israel will be established in the Western Bank and Gaza," Weizman said.
What Begin did do, Weizman said, was agree to a transition process that would change the status of the occupied territories, and that the final status of the West Bank and Gaza would be determined at the end of five years.
"So let's start the process. Let's change the status quo and start a process . . . to see if we can live together in the Western Bank and Gaza. Perhaps we can have a federation, or confederation. Why should we go against Camp David and not start the process," Weizman said.
Dayan, in a press conference after his own resignation, made an almost identical appeal. Weizman today underscored the similarity by advocating Dayan's proposal for unilaterally imposed autonomy as a way to force a change in the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The plan would turn over administrative functions to the Arab residents, but would not provide self-determination through legislative powers.