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Likud Limps into Political Arena

The long awaited non-Labor alignment, Likud (National Liberal Front) limped onto the political stage today, a congenital cripple, its progenitors furious with one of their number who defected at the 11th hour but rejoined the fold at the 12th.

Shmuel Tamir, of the Free Center Faction, announced at the last minute today that he, would not join Gahal and the State List in signing the articles of agreement to bring Likud into existence. His announcement cast a pall over the press conference called this afternoon to announce a triumphant “revolution in the political panorama of Israel.”

Shortly afterwards, however, Tamir did an about face. He said the Free Center would join Likud after all because of “the high national importance of it” and promised to sign the agreement tomorrow. His defection and reversal caused the new alignment considerable embarrassment and reduced its impact as a political force to challenge the rule of Premier Golda Meir’s Labor Alignment.

Tamir said he pulled out of the new alignment because it refused to guarantee his faction the right to bring measures directly to the Knesset. He said he also wanted changes in the electoral system, but Gahal and the State List refused to discuss them. Precluding another reversal by Tamir, Likud is now an Israeli political entity well to the right of center. But most observers felt tonight that the turmoil attending its birth leaves it little chance to succeed as a force to be reckoned with in next month’s Knesset elections.

(In New York, Leon Dulzin, leader of the World Confederation of General Zionists, sent a cable to Herut leaders Menachem Beigin and Dr. Elimelech Rimalt hailing the establishment of Likud.)

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