Behind the Headlines Ms. Aloni Returns to the Back Benches

Shulamit Aloni, whose supporters considered her a force for change in a government too often hog-tied by political allegiances and concepts of the past, has returned to the back benches of the Knesset to lead her small three-member faction, the Civil Rights Party. The outspoken Ms. Aloni, who a year ago announced dramatically that she would run for the Knesset–never believing she would make it–resigned from Premier Yitzhak Rabin’s Cabinet last week.

Staunchly secular, her departure was precipitated by the entry of the National Religious Party into the Cabinet. She referred to the NRP as a “Trojan Horse” and felt Rabin was offering too many concessions to the hawkishly nationalistic Orthodox faction. But it was apparent during her brief tenure as a Minister-With-out-Portrolio that she was never quite comfortable at the Cabinet table where consensus is the order of the day.

Ms. Aloni was always in the opposition, even when she served as a Labor MK last year. She would not stifle her private views, even when they contradicted the party line. This stubborn stand cost her membership in the Labor Party, which later led to the establishment of her own CRP and her unexpected success in the last Knesset elections.

FELT THWARTED, IGNORED

She had Joined the Cabinet with enthusiasm, although she knew Rabin invited her only because he could not persuade the NRP to join earlier. She hoped for radical changes, a government that would change things, both Internally and externally. But a few weeks before she resigned she said in a private conversation, “I am disappointed in the Cabinet. It is not what I expected.” On another occasion, she said: “Rabin’s Cabinet began as a government of change but now it continues to adopt the policies of Golda’s Cabinet.”

During her short tenure in the Cabinet, Ms. Aloni tried to exert pressure for changes in the environment as head of the Ministerial Committee on Environmental Affair, She also tried to initiate a drive against bureaucracy and hoped to direct a plan for the reorganization of government offices. However, this Job was given to Gideon Hausner of the Independent Liberals. She also attempted to call attention to other various problems affecting domestic and foreign policy Issues, but she felt that she was either ignored or thwarted at all turns. Ms. Aloni is now expected to try to establish a new liberal coalition, hoping, perhaps, to return to the Cabinet some day with a much stronger force.

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