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Weizman Ousted from Herut

Former Defense Minister Ezer Weizman was ousted from the Herut Party last night by a 12-1 vote of its Secretariate Two members abstained. The vote followed five hours of intensive debate after Weizman himself appeared before the Secretariate for 90 minutes to explain why he had supported a no-confidence motion against the Likud-led government in the Knesset last Wednesday.

The Secretariate’s decision deprived Premier Menachem Begin’s coalition of its shrunken majority in the Knesset. With Weizman out, Likud and its partners control 60 seats, just half the membership of Israel’s parliament. Weizman ignored Herut’s demand that he give up his Knesset mandate. He said he would continue to serve as an independent MK.

Begin did not attend the Secretariate meeting last night but he reportedly exerted pressure to expel Weizman, long his most outspoken critic in Likud ranks. Ironically, the action places Begin’s government in greater jeopardy. Political observers believe the Labor Party, the largest opposition faction, will lose no time presenting new no-confidence motions which may topple the government and force early elections.

There is further irony in the fact that Weizman, who managed Likud’s election compaign in 1977, is credited as the man most responsible for its stunning victory. Some Likud members were worry of drumming him out of Herut ranks. Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon, who has differed sharply with Weizman on many issues, warned the Herut Secretariate before last night’s meeting that the expulsion of Weizman could have grave consequences.

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