Snag in Efforts to Create a Labor-led Government Coalition

Attempt to create a new Labor-led coalition government ran into a snag today when the Independent Liberal Party balked at joining any government that would surrender to demands by the Religious bloc. ILP leader Moshe Kol said at a press conference here that his party was unalterably opposed to any change in the status quo which defines the extent of the Orthodox religious establishment’s control of national life. He said the ILP would join a coalition only if it was guaranteed freedom of vote in questions of conscience including religious matters and women’s rights according to religious law.

The ILP stand coincides with that of Mrs. Shulamit Aloni’s Civil Rights list which won three Knesset seats in the election. The ILP retained its four seats and is negotiating with Mrs. Aloni to form a bloc of their two factions. Premier Golda Meir’s Labor Alignment, which came out of the election with 51 seats as against 56 in the last Knesset, is seeking to form a coalition of the ILP, the National Religious Party and possibly the Aguda bloc. That would give, Labor a very comfortable working majority of up to 70 Knesset seats.

The religious parties are expected to demand increased religious control and some key Cabinet portfolios as their price for joining a Labor-led coalition. The NRP is also being pressured by internal elements to demand the establishment of a national coalition government embracing the opposition Likud, something Labor refuses to consider.

LIKUD WARNS AGAINST GENEVA AGREEMENTS

Likud, bolstered by its gain of seven seats in the election for a total of 39, warned today that the present government, as a care-taker regime, has no right to make any decisions affecting the future of Israel and the national security That statement, issued by the Likud Executive at its first post-election meeting, served notice on Premier Meir that she cannot enter into any basic agreements at the Geneva conference before a new government is established.

When that will be is hard to say considering the obstacles Labor must overcome before putting together a new coalition. But the government is presently involved in disengagement talks with Egypt and certain proposals are currently before Mrs. Meir’s care-taker Cabinet which may have to make decisions before a new government is established. The eighth Knesset will be sworn in Jan. 21 and it is difficult to say whether the new Knesset will ratify decisions taken by an outgoing government. (By Yitzhak Shargil.)

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