Jerusalem (Jan. 19)
Bargaining began today between the Likud-led coalition and the Labor Alignment over an election date. The Cabinet decided yesterday on July 7 and government spokesmen insisted that date would win majority approval in the Knesset. Labor wants to go to the polls earlier and has proposed May 12.
Both sides seem willing to compromise. Justice Minister Moshe Nissim indicated that the July 7 date was subject to change because, according to him, the Cabinet ministers were unaware when they selected it that it would conflict with the opening of the Maccabiah Games.
The Labor Alignment expressed confidence that it could muster a Knesset majority for earlier elections. But Labor Party Secretary, Gen. Haim Barlev, intimated that the opposition would prefer an agreement with Likud to a Knesset fight on the issue. Labor has objected to July elections on grounds that they would coincide with the vacation season when some 150,000 Israeli voters are expected to be travelling abroad. Their votes would represent a decisive 7-8 Knesset seats. Israel has no absentee ballots.
Earlier elections also have the advantage of shortening the campaign which would result in saving millions of dollars in expenses. The government came under heavy fire in the press today for holding out for the latest possible election date and thereby “impoverishing the country.”