Jerusalem (Jul. 6)
Premier Menachem Begin continued his efforts today to line up partners for a workable coalition government. The final vote count in the June 30 Knesset elections gave his Likud party a fragile one-seat edge over the Labor Alignment – 48 to 47- and Begin needs a minimum of 13 more Knesset mandates to achieve a 61 seat majority.
He spent two hours today in conference with former Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan whose Telem faction won two seats. Dayan told reporters afterwards that he and Begin had discussed “principles” and would hold more meetings. He did not elaborate.
Begin’s major effort is concentrated on the National Religious Party and the Aguda Israel which, together, will control 10 seats in the new Knesset. Begin met over the weekend with NRP leader Yosef Burg to discuss coalition possibilities. NRP Knesset-member Rabbi Haim Druckmann said today that Begin promised that Burg, who is Interior Minister in the outgoing government, would not be replaced by Dayan as the minister in charge of autonomy negotiations with Egypt and the U.S. Druckmann said he protested to Begin when he learned that Dayan wanted the autonomy role as the price for joining a Likud-led coalition. He said Begin told him the matter was not discussed with Dayan, that he was satisfied with the way Burg has conducted negotiations and had no intention of replacing him.