JERUSALEM (Apr. 24)
Defense Minister Shimon Peres, assigned the duties of Premier, presided over his first Cabinet meeting today. The transfer of the levers of governmental power to Peres, recently elected leader of the Labor Party, took place quietly on Friday when Premier Yitzhak Rabin officially went on vacation.
Peres briefed the Cabinet on his arrangements with Rabin worked out at private meetings the two men held last week. He also informed the ministers of the means of keeping Rabin up to date on all affairs of state for which he is still legally responsible. Rabin had announced at last Sunday’s Cabinet session that he would begin an extended vacation directly after Independence Day which was celebrated last Thursday and would assign his functions to Peres. His vacation is expected to last until a new government is formed after the May 17 elections.
Peres was not appointed Acting Premier, a post that can be assigned only when the Premier is out of the country or too ill to perform his duties. Rabin is in good heath and will remain in Israel during his vacation. As State Attorney Aharon Barak interpreted the law last week.
“The Premier can take a vacation in Israel and he can then for the duration of his vacation ask one or more other ministers to carry out the various functions of the Premiership such as chairing the Cabinet meetings. But we must be quite clear on one point; such a stand-in minister would not be an acting Prime Minister and would not possess the functions and powers of the Prime Minister. Even during his vacation the Prime Minister continues to function and continues to bear full responsibility of being Prime Minister…”
Peres is expected to run the government from Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv. In addition to presiding over the Cabinet he will head the ministerial committees for security and Arab affairs.