Government Bill Would Enable Premier to Appoint Two Deputy Premiers

The government will submit to the Knesset tomorrow a bill enabling a Prime Minister to appoint two deputies, instead of just one. The bill was drafted at today’s Cabinet meeting.

It will facilitate the minor “reshuffle” that Premier Menachem Begin intends to implement this week, by enabling him to name Finance Minister Simcha Ehrlich his second Deputy Premier, alongside Yigael Yadin, the Democratic Movement leader. This in turn will free the Finance Minister slot for Yigal Hurwitz. The other element in the package is the appointment of Liberal Party Minister-Without-Portfolio Moshe Nissim as Minister of Information.

The bill, an amendment to the Basic Law, as originally drafted by the Attorney General’s office and submitted to the Cabinet, would have enabled a Premier to appoint “Deputy Premiers” without any set limit. But Education Minister Zevulun Hammer of the National Religious Party balked at this, arguing that it would be better to restrict the number to two, and the Cabinet accepted this view.

OPPOSITION TO INFORMATION MINISTRY

Meanwhile opposition is developing to establishing a Ministry of Information. The main source of opposition was the fear by various government agencies-and Ministers-that they would have to give up functions which are within their responsibility.

Foremost among the opponents were Hammer and the director general of the Foreign Ministry, Yoset Ciechanover. Hammer opposed giving up his responsibility for the Information Center which deals with information inside the country. Ciechanover, for his part, opposed removing his office from information functions overseas.

In an effort to smooth out the differences, the Cabinet decided today to establish a committee, whose function was defined as “guidelines for the operation of the Information Ministry.” The new committee met shortly after the Cabinet session, only to find out that its members had different views on the purpose of the new ministry.

FINAL RESHUFFLE DUE TUESDAY

The new committee is headed by Ehrlich. Its members are Absorption and Housing Minister David Levy, Justice Minister Shmuel Tamir, Hammer, Nissim and Ciechanover. According to the initial plan, the new ministry was to include the Government Press Office, the Information Center at the Education Ministry, and the Information Division at the Foreign Ministry.

But Hammer was quick to announce his opposition to give up the internal information center, while Ciechanover opposed giving up overseas information. Ciechanover argued that former Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan had earlier agreed with Nissim on a different way or establishing an information authority. It was agreed at the time, he said, that the new authority would coordinate overseas information activities, but would not interfere.

Thus, by late today it seemed as if the committee, established in order to make work easy for the Cabinet, would have no choice but return the ball to the Cabinet plenary-which is scheduled to meet Tuesday for a final and formal decision on the current reshuffle.

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