JERUSALEM (Aug. 2)
Israel’s national unity coalition government may yet survive its worst crisis brought about by cabinet approval of the latest United States peace initiative for the Middle East. Informed sources said here today that it still was not a foregone conclusion that the Gahal faction, bitterly opposed to the U.S. plan, would quit the cabinet. Gahal. Israel’s second largest political party, is an alignment of the militant right-wing Herut and the Liberal party. Its two executive committees, representing each faction, are scheduled to meet tomorrow to decide on a last minute compromise offered by Premier Golda Meir’s Labor Party to avert a cabinet split. The offer would permit Gahal Knesset members to vote against acceptance of the American plan without it constituting a breach of coalition discipline. Gahal’s six ministers could, in good conscience, remain in the coalition without violating their principles or their party’s policy. Herut leader Menachem Beigin has mobilized opposition to the American plan which he has called tantamount to “suicide” for Israel. But political observers said today that when “the moment of truth” arrives, Mr. Beigin might be out-voted. The Herut leader has threatened in that case to resign all his party posts.
The split within Gahal is along factional lines. The Liberal wing, headed by Minister-Without-Port-folio Joseph Sapir is believed almost unanimous in wanting to stay in the government. There is also reportedly a strong leaning toward the Liberal point of view within the Herut faction. According to some observers, the Herut wing could be persuaded to remain in the government were it not for Mr. Beigin. The latter, who also holds ministerial rank without portfolio is strongly supported in the cabinet by his colleague. Haim Landau. He is supported, but with less enthusiasm reportedly, by Herut’s third cabinet member. Minister of Transport Ezer Weizman, a former Air Force general. Gahal sources reported today that Mr. Beigin was being visited by deputations of private citizens urging him to reconsider in the interests of national unity. Dr. Joseph Burg. Minister of Welfare and a leader of the National Religious Party, appealed to Gahal today to stay in the coalition. He claimed that “on any tactical or strategic step Israel takes. it is important that the voice of Gahal be heard.” Dr. Burg also called on American Jews to “make their voices heard at this crucial time for the State of Israel.” He didn’t make it clear whether he was asking them to urge Gahal to stay in the cabinet.