New Coalition Government Formed, but Civil Rights Party Bolts

The Knesset late today approved Premier Yitzhak Rabin’s new coalition government enlarged by the addition of the National Religious Party but narrowed at the same time by the defection of Shulamit Aloni’s staunchly secular Civil Rights Party. The 59-52 vote came after a raucous three-hour debate marked by a barrage of heckling from the Likud benches. Ms. Aloni, who had resigned from the government several hours earlier, added her faction’s negative votes to those of Likud, the Rakah Communists and the leftist Moked.

Three veteran NRP leaders–Yosef Burg. Yitzhak Raphael and Michael Hazani–were sworn into the Cabinet to head the ministries of Interior, Religious Affairs and Welfare respectively, the same portfolios they had in the last government of Premier Golda Meir. Rabin expressed satisfaction that his coalition has been broadened at a time when Israel faces imminent problems of major significance. But the new government’s 66-54 margin is not as wide as he had hoped.

The loss of the CRP’s three Knesset votes was something the Premier had made a last ditch effort to avoid. But he was unable to conciliate Ms. Aloni with an offer of the vacant communications ministry post. Nor can he count, as of this moment, on more than eight of the NRP’s 10 Knesset votes. Zevulun Hammer and Yehuda Ben Meir; the party’s “young guard” militants who opposed Joining the government, abstained In today’s voting and have yet to decide whether they will observe coalition discipline by supporting the government on crucial issues. Hammer had been offered a Cabinet post but refused it.

Gideon Patt of Likud, directed a withering attack against the NRP leadership for, as he put it, forsaking their party’s religious and nationalist principles. A full-scale debate on the government’s foreign policy will be held in the Knesset next Thursday.

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