JERUSALEM (May. 24)
The Likud and the Democratic Movement for Change (DMC) began their negotiations today for a coalition government and agreed on several foreign policy issues but not on the issue of settlements on the West Bank. Yigal Yadin, leader of the DMC, refused to say whether he was optimistic after the talks. “It is too early to tell,” he stated to reporters.
The negotiations, which were held in the Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv, were headed by Simha Ehrlich for Likud, in the absence of hospitalized Menachem Beigin, and Yadin for the DMC. The two parties reached agreements on the need for peace in the Middle East, the Geneva conference, the need for direct negotiations with the Arab states, opposition to an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and that the Jordan River should be the “security border” of Israel.
But on the question of West Bank settlements, the DMC said they should only be authorized for security reasons while Likud supports Jewish settlements there in general. However, both parties agreed that all settlements must have government authorization, an obvious reference to Gush Emunim’s attempt to establish settlements without the government’s permission.
Negotiations between the two parties will continue Thursday at which time the DMC’s demands will be discussed, including its proposal that the election system be changed to provide for constituencies and that a new election be held within two years under the changed rules. Likud is scheduled to begin talks tomorrow with the National Religious Party. Meanwhile, Premier Yitzhak Rabin returned to his official duties today ending the vacation he began on April 22. He has scheduled a meeting with the new American Ambassador Samuel Lewis.