Katzir Will Ask Begin Next Week to Form New Government
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Katzir Will Ask Begin Next Week to Form New Government

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President Ephraim Katzir was asked by a Likud delegation this morning to formally request their leader, Menachem Begin to form the next Israeli government. He is expected to meet with Begin early next week for that purpose after consultations with the other political parties as required by law. As the party with the largest number of Knesset seats, Likud will be approached first to put together a new government.

The turmoil over the weekend caused by Begin’s nomination of former Defense Minister Moshe Dayan to serve as Foreign-Minister in the new government appeared to have abated today and the incipient revolt within the ranks of Likud seems to have been quelled, at least for the time being. The Likud Executive, meeting at Begin’s home last night only hours after the Likud chief was discharged from Ichilov Hospital, agreed unanimously to shelve the Dayan nomination though not to rescind it.

That move was aimed at re-opening coalition talks with Prof. Yigol Yadin’s Democratic Movement for Change (DMC) which will be the third largest party in the next Knesset. The DMC broke off negotiations after Begin made the surprise nomination of Dayan from his hospital bed last Thursday, Simcha Ehrlich, Likud’s number two man and leader of its Liberal Party wing, said after today’s meeting with President Katzir that he saw no reason why the DMC should not now enter a Likud-led coalition.


Likud is in a position to form a government without the DMC. A coalition with the National Religious Party (NRP) the ultra-Orthodox Aguda bloc and Gen. Ariel Sharon’s Shlomzion faction would give it a slim governing majority of 61-62 Knesset seats. But Begin and other Likud elements are anxious to have a more broadly based regime that will reflect a national consensus rather than one of rigid nationalism and religion: Gen. Ezer Wiezman, who is number two man in Likud’s Herut faction stressed today that Likud may have to make several policy concessions to accommodate the DMC.

The DMC’s party council was meeting tonight to decide how to respond to Likud’s call to resume talks. Whatever the decision, Likud was strengthened today when Shlomzion agreed to join it adding two Knesset seats for a Likud mandate of 45. Sharon was reportedly slated for a new Cabinet post as coordinator of security services and anti-terrorist activities.

Meanwhile, the Dayan nomination has divided Israelis as no other issue in recent years. The ranks of Likud were split until last night’s compromise resolution which confirmed Begin’s authority to select his Cabinet, subject to party approval, should he be designated Premier. But that stage will not begin until he is officially asked by President Katzir to form a government. Leon Dulzin, of Likud’s Liberal Party faction who had expected the Foreign Ministry portfolio before Dayan’s nomination, said last night that he was satisfied with the resolution. He said it meant that every Cabinet post is still subject to negotiations and while Dayan’s nomination stands, it remains only one proposal.


Pro and anti-Dayan forces engaged in shouting matches and a bottle of placards outside Likud headquarters yesterday requiring heavy police reinforcements to prevent clashes between them. About 100 leftists opposed to the former defense chief carried signs reading “”Dayan-Enough With Your Juggling Acts” and “Dayan-There Is A Limit To Your Failures”. Some 400 Dayan supporters carried signs hailing their man as “Right For The Job”. They shouted “Leftists go to Siberia”.

A more solemn and staid demonstration was conducted outside Begin’s home, while the Likud Executive was meeting last night, by about 200 parents of soldiers killed in the Yom Kippur War. They held up enlarged photographs of their sons and blamed Dayan, who was Defense Minister in 1973, for needless deaths because of Israel’s lack of preparedness for war. The group refused to disperse until Begin agreed to receive a delegation.

He told them that he agreed that Dayan, as a member of the Labor-led government, was a failure as Defense Minister. But Begin insisted that he was the best man to serve as Israel’s Foreign Minister at this juncture because he is well known abroad and is firm in his views. He also urged the bereaved parents not to harbor feelings of vengeance against Dayan. He promised to meet with them again next week when he would feel less tired.

Meanwhile, Dayan ended his long affiliation with the Labor Party over the weekend. He turned in his membership card when asked to do so by the Labor leadership. But he refused to relinquish the Knesset mandate he won on the Labor Party ticket.

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