JERUSALEM (Oct. 29)
The Cabinet met briefly this evening to give its formal stamp of approval to a new coalition agreement signed earlier today by the National Religious Party. The signing ceremony at Premier Yitzhak Rabin’s office, was followed by the appointments of Yosef Burg, Yitzhak Raphael and Michael Hazani as the ministers of Interior, Religious Affairs and Social Welfare, respectively. They had previously held those posts in the short-lived last government of former Premier Golda Meir. The coalition agreement was also Identical with the one in effect during the Meir government.
Rabin, who spoke briefly at the signing, stressed the difficulties facing Israel at home and abroad and expressed satisfaction that his government has been strengthened. He said that as far as he is concerned, all 10 NRP Knesset members were now part of the coalition and that the party’s internal difficulties were not his concern.
That remark was an oblique reference to the split between the NRP leadership and its militant “young guard” which was opposed to joining the Rabin government. The “young guard” faction will meet this weekend to decide whether its two MKs, Zevulun Hammer and Yehuda Ben Meir, would support the government on crucial issues.
Meanwhile Rabin is engaged in a last ditch ef- fort to prevent the defection of Shulamit Aloni’s Civil Rights Party from his Cabinet. He has offered Ms. Aloni the vacant communications ministry portfolio in an effort to retain the CRP’s three Knesset votes. He has also reportedly assured her that any legislative solution to the Who is a Jew controversy that may be recommended by the projected ministerial committee on the conversion issue would have to have the agreement of all coalition factions.
EFFORT TO AVERT CRP DEFECTION
Ms. Aloni was incensed by her exclusion from the planned committee–at the insistence of the NRP–and the fact that the body is to be headed by Yitzhak Raphael. “We cannot agree to that,” Ms. Aloni said last night. The NRP’s entry to the government “closes options and introduces a Trojan horse into the Cabinet.” She said she saw no reason to remain in the Cabinet. The CRP executive committee was scheduled to meet late tonight to take a final decision.
MAPAM GIVES CONDITIONAL APPROVAL
Yesterday, the Secretariat of Mapam gave its conditional approval to the admission of the NRP into Rabin’s coalition government. The Mapam leadership made it clear that the NRP would be expected to adhere to the coalition guidelines–established by the government of former Premier Meir–which include a national referendum or election prior to Knesset ratification of any agreement that involves the future status of the Judaea and Samaria regions (West Bank).
Mapam also stressed the necessity for an NRP undertaking to observe coalition discipline and insisted that the religious party endorse the government’s opposition to illegal settlement in the administered territories. Earlier in the week Rabin said he expects the NRP to vote with Labor–against the Likud–on the future of the West Bank. However, once an agreement–even a partial and not overall accord–with Jordan is reached, elections would be held and the NRP could campaign in favor of keeping the administered territories, Rabin said.