JERUSALEM (Jul. 2)
President Anwar Sadat of Egypt telephoned acting Premier Yigael Yodin today to inquire about Premier Menachem Begin’s health and expressed wishes for his speedy recovery on behalf of himself and his wife, Jihan Begin was confined is Hadassah Hospital Monday following a mild heart attack. He was reported today to be recuperating satisfactorily.
His physician, Dr. Mervyn Gottesman, said last night that Begin will have to remain in the hospital for “two or three weeks” and should make a “full recovery” from his “light heart attack.” He said that when Begin returned to work he would be able to “fulfill his task properly … to work at the same pace as he has been working until now.”
Meanwhile, political observers here said that if Begin continues to make a slow but steady recovery, as predicted by his doctor, his illness will have proved to be a boon to his shaky Likudled coalition government. Although the government easily defeated a motion for early elections in the Knesset Monday, there have been rumblings of discontent in coalition ranks and numerous waverers. But his illness is likely to solidify support behind the Premier, at least for the time being, the observers said.
DEVISIVE ISSUE BREWING
On the other hand, there is no guarantee that these initial reactions will prevail during the coming crucial months and much will depend on the state of Begin’s health. If he suffers a setback both coalition and opposition elements in the Knesset will inevitably search for political alternates, the observers said.
One devisive issue is already brewing in the Cabinet. The various coalition factions are disturbed by Begin’s almost automatic designation of Yadin as acting Premier and acting Defense Minister while he is incapacitated. The Liberal Party is particularly resentful that Begin did not ask their man, Deputy Premier Simcha Ehrlich, to assume at least one of those posts. Although Yodin has served as acting Premier in the past, on occasions when Begin was either ill or abroad, his political base was stronger. Yadin’s Democratic Movement now commands only four seats in the Knesset as a result of two defections last month.