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Amit Resigns from Government

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Meir Amit, the Minister of Transportation and Communications, resigned from the government today to serve as a leader of a new political group that has broken away from the Democratic Movement for Change (DMC). Amit informed Premier Menachem Begin of his resignation in a telephone call to Camp David where Begin is attending the summit conference.

The new group, known as Shai–an acronym for Shinooy (change) and Yozma (initiative)–will hold its first council meeting tomorrow. Under an agreement between Amnon Rubinstein, leader of the dissenters and Deputy Premier Yigael Yadin, the DMC which Yadin founded more than a year ago to be a new force in Israeli politics will cease to exist as of tomorrow.

Of the DMC’s 15 Knesset members, seven, including Rubinstein, will form the nucleus of the new faction which will not be a member of Begin’s coalition government. Six MKs will remain with Yadin, and one, Assaf Yaguri, is expected to declare himself a one-man Knesset faction but will continue to support the coalition.

BEGIN’S KNESSET MAJORITY REDUCED

The break-up of the DMC will reduce Begin’s Knesset majority from 76 to 69 seats, still a comfortable margin. Amit, former head of the Histadrut-owned Koor Industries, quit the Labor Party before the 1977 elections to join with Yadin and Rubinstein in the DMC leadership.

In his letter of resignation, submitted to the Cabinet secretary, Arye Naor today, Amit said his new party “believes in an active and flexible foreign policy.” He noted that as a Cabinet member he had fundamental differences with the majority of ministers. A principal difference was his belief that Israel’s policy on the issue of the occupied territories should be based solely on security needs, Amit wrote, implying that the majority of his colleagues had leaned toward Begin’s insistence that the West Bank and Gaza belonged to Israel by historic and Biblical right. Amit said in his letter that under the circumstances he could not continue to serve as a minister.

In a radio interview today, he said Begin told him he regretted his move but understood the reasons for it. “It was an expected move which expresses a reality that must be understood by the public, “Amit said. His resignation has created certain legal problems. Under the law, when a minister resigns his powers automatically revert to the Premier. As Begin is out of the country, he will have to designate a temporary replacement for the Transport Minister.

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