Internal Criticism Hits Nrp

The leadership of the National Religious Party, like that of Premier Golda Meir’s Labor Party, is being buffeted by internal criticism and pressure that severely complicates the efforts by both to establish a new governing coalition. While the Laborite leaders are beset by left-leaning “doves” who advocate territorial compromise, the NRP ministers are being exhorted by their militant rightist elements to demand a broad national coalition that would include the Likud opposition which takes a no compromise stand.

The NRP militants, led by the party’s “young guard” are opposed to the return of any territory to Jordan on grounds that the West Bank–Judaea-Samaria–rightfully belongs to Israel because of historic and religious associations. They feel that a broad-based coalition in which Likud participated would insure against any territorial concessions. Labor argues by the same token that any government that included Likud would be a government beset by paralysis and unable to make any moves toward peace.

A group of NRP followers–professionals, scientists, scholars and some settlers from the administered territories–met here Saturday night to serve notice on the leadership that they would tolerate back-down on the issue of a national coalition. Former MK Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Neriwh, head of the Bnei Akiva yeshiva network, called on party members to demonstrate near NRP offices for a national unity government. He said that such a government at this time would have a religious value. Nahum Arieli, a writer, asked, “Did we give our vote to professional politicians or to people with conscience? Apparently we gave it to politicians and therefore we have to take things into our own hands.”

Prof. Yehuda Don of Bar Han University claimed that withdrawal from the territories today meant annihilation tomorrow. He said government responsibility must be assumed by a government that represents all factions and ideas. “If the NRP leadership disappoints us again, let them know it will be the last time Israel pays for the mistakes of the NRP,” he said.

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