JERUSALEM (Mar. 9)
Knesset Speaker Yitzhak Shamir, a Herut hard-liner, will resign his office tomorrow and will be sworn in immediately as Israel’s new Foreign Minister, replacing Moshe Dayan who resigned last October 21. The announcement of Shamir’s appointment was made after today’s Cabinet meeting which approved his selection by Premier Menachem Begin.
Shamir, 65, was one of the triumvirate of leaders who headed the underground Stern Group or Lehi which fought the British during the final years of the Palestine Mandate. He was its chief of operations. His elevation to the post of Foreign Minister, the second most powerful office in government, is expected to significantly strengthen the right-wing bloc urging a tougher stance by Israel on settlements in the occupied territories and other controversial issues.
Shamir abstained when the Knesset voted to approve the Camp David accords and an the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. When Begin was asked by Deputy Premier Yigael Yadin today “how does his appointment square with his opposition to the Camp David agreements?” he replied that Shamir would faithfully execute government policy. Begin was recorded by Deputy Premier Simcha Ehrlich, leader of Likud’s Liberal Party wing, who described the Foreign Minister-designate as “a serious and honorable man” who “knows full well the policy of the government that he is about to join.”
The Cabinet will convene briefly tomorrow to formally endorse Shamir’s appointment following his resignation as Knesset Speaker. Liberal Party sources said last night that their candidate to succeed Shamir as Speaker will be Yitzhak Berman, presently chairman of the Knesset’s House Committee. (See Feb. 11 Bulletin for background on Shamir.)
DEBATE ON HEBRON DEFERRED AGAIN
Meanwhile, the Cabinet deferred debate on the Hebron issue for the fourth time in as many weeks. Begin acceded to the demands by the four Liberal Party ministers that a decision on settling Jews in the West Bank Arab town be postponed for at least another week. He had received of similar request from Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon, a leading supporter of placing Jews in Hebron. Sharon is presently abroad and did not want the debate to be held in his absence.
Ehrlich has said publicly that he hoped the Hebron issue would be allowed to die down quietly. But Housing Minister David Levy has drown up detailed plans to refurbish farmer Jewish-owned buildings in Hebron for immediate occupancy by some 200 Jews from neighboring Kiryat Arba, a Gush Emunim stronghold.
Many observes predict, however, that the Cabinet will eventually, agree to a compromise The establishment of a symbolic Jewish presence in Hebron in the form of a yeshiva or a museum has been proposed in order to avoid the provocation of settling Jews in the middle of the strongly nationalistic Arab town.