NEW YORK — Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has called for replacing the current Israeli government with a "Zionist government" and saluted right-wing Zionists for their campaign to influence U.S. policy toward the Middle East peace process.
Speaking before about 700 enthusiastic guests at the national annual dinner of the Zionist Organization of America on Sunday, Shamir pointedly referred to the recent slap by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at U.S. Jews who are lobbying Congress against his government's policy.
Shamir, now a Knesset member, urged the guests to ignore Rabin and continue to "fight against the creation of a Palestinian state which will take as its central goal the destruction of the Jewish state."
"The majority of the Israeli public wholeheartedly supports the activities of ZOA led by Mort Klein" to oppose financial support for the "terrorist organization" that is the Palestine Liberation Organization, he said.
ZOA President Morton Klein has been waging a high-profile Capitol Hill campaign to expose the failure of the PLO to comply with the autonomy accords it signed with Israel.
"I have no desire to attack the Israeli government while abroad," Shamir said, but quickly added that suspending such restraint is required when "vital principles are endangered."
"I feel in every fiber of my being that this is not the time for silence," said Shamir, who served as prime minister from 1983-1984 and from 1986-1992.
Shamir then assailed what he called the "deviations from the essence of Zionism" by the current government in the principles that historically have guided all Israeli leaders, regardless of their party.
He cited the government's willingness to discuss the status of Jerusalem, its willingness to give up land on the Golan Heights, its transfer of some security responsibilities to the Palestinian Authority and its failure not to rule out the prospect of an independent Palestinian state.
"This will greatly weaken the claim of exclusivity of the Jewish people to the land and presents military dangers to the state of Israel," he said.