Likud Discloses Probable Composition of New Cabinet
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Likud Discloses Probable Composition of New Cabinet

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The probable composition of the next Israeli Cabinet that Premier-designate Menachem Begin plans to present to the Knesset for approval Monday was disclosed today. It contained a few surprises, further concessions to the National Religious Party (NRP) and several alterations that could be construed as inducements to Prof. Yigael Yadin’s Democratic Movement for Change (DMC) to reverse its decision not to join the Likud-led coalition.

If no changes are forthcoming over the weekend, the line-up of ministers will be: Premier, Begin; Defense Minister, Gen. Ezer Weizman; Finance Minister, Simcha Ehrlich; Foreign Minister, Moshe Dayan; Minister of Commerce and Industry, Yigal Hurwitz; Minister of Interior, Yosef Burg; Minister of Education, Zevulun Hammer; Minister of Agriculture, Gen. Ariel Sharon; Minister of Energy, Itzhak Modai; Minister of Construction, Gideon Patt; Minister of Health, Eliezer Shostak; Minister of Religious Affairs, either Haim Druckman or Aharon Abu-Hatzeira; Minister of Absorption, probably David Levy of Likud if he is not elected Secretary General of Histadrut next week. The Interior, Education and Religious Affairs Ministers belong to the NRP.

Likud retained nine of the 13 ministries announced so far for itself and will have a tenth if Dayan officially joins Likud as expected. The NRP, which had two ministries when it belonged to the Labor-led coalition, demanded three in the next government and Begin gave in, apparently in order not to delay signing a coalition agreement with the religious faction. If the Ministry of Religious Affairs is incorporated into the Interior Ministry as suggested, a Ministry-Without-Portfolio may be created for the NRP.


The major surprise was Sharon’s agreement to take the Ministry of Agriculture. He had been slated to head a new ministry coordinating the various security services. The DMC objected to the creation of such a ministry and Begin’s abandonment of that portfolio, for the time being, was seen as a gesture toward the DMC. Sharon told newsmen that he had acquiesced because the most urgent task now is to form a new government without delay.

Three ministries are being held open for the DMC–Social Betterment, Communications, which will include transportation, and Justice. Likud and NRP leaders are, in fact, still urging the DMC to join the government before it is presented to the Knesset. But Yadin is standing firmly by his position that his party will not participate in the new regime under present conditions. He said that so far, conditions have not changed and he will not resume negotiations with Likud.

The new government will be able to count on a slim majority of 63 Knesset seats. With DMC participation it would have 78 seats and would represent a far broader political spectrum.

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