JERUSALEM (Oct. 25)
The coalition agreement reached between Likud and the Democratic Movement for Change (DMC) contains provisions for the reorganization and consolidation of several ministries and assignments of authority, it was disclosed today.
Under its provisions, the Labor Ministry, the Welfare Ministry and the Institute for Social Insurance will be combined into a single Ministry of Labor and Social Betterment. The ministries of transportation and communications will also be consolidated in a single portfolio and the Ministry of Health will be abolished after the Knesset passes a national health bill later this year. Its functions will be incorporated into the Ministry of Labor and Social Betterment.
The agreement states that Deputy Premier will preside over the Ministerial Committee on Labor and Social Betterment and will coordinate social welfare activities. The Ministry itself is headed by Dr. Israel Katz of the DMC who will determine its budget in consultation with the Deputy Premier Yigael Yadin, who is also the leader of the DMC. The Minister of Justice, Shmuel Tamir, will preside over the Ministerial Legislation Committee.
The Likud-DMC agreement is an addition to the coalition agreements signed between Likud and the National Religious Party and the Aguda bloc last July 19. It stipulates that elections to the next Knesset, the tenth, will be conducted under a new electoral system based on regions and will embrace both the present system of proportional representation (party lists) and direct election of MKs. There will be between 6-16 electoral regions, the exact number to be determined within nine months by a special committee created for that purpose.
The Likud-DMC pact also accords the DMC freedom of expression on political matters involving the West Bank and the right to abstain in Knesset votes on that subject. The DMC will also enjoy freedom of vote on religious matters. Decisions on settlements in the occupied territories will be referred to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee at the request of a DMC member.
A FIRST FOR ISRAEL
When Yadin was sworn in as Deputy Premier yesterday, he became the first holder of that office in Israel authorized to serve automatically as Acting Premier whenever the Prime Minister is absent. Israel’s basic law states that if the Premier is absent or cannot fulfill his duties temporarily, the government shall appoint another minister to take his place as Acting Premier. Therefore, although Yigal Allon was Deputy Premier in the Rabin government, it was Shimon Peres who was selected by his colleagues to serve as Acting Premier when Rabin took a leave of absence before the elections last spring.
The basic law has not been changed. But the coalition agreement between the DMC and Likud specified that in Begin’s absence, Yadin would head the government. The agreement was given the force of law when it was approved by the Knesset yesterday. But it refers only to the Prime Minister’s absence, not to a situation that might arise if he is unable to function.
Such a situation is a matter of some concern in view of Begin’s health. Questioned on the matter, Justice Minister Shmuel Tamir replied, “We have checked everything, we have looked into everything and we are aware of the problem.” He did not elaborate.