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Unity Government Remains Elusive

Premier Menachem Begin said that he would like to invite the opposition Labor Party to discuss the possible formation of a national unity government but the conditions demanded by Labor were “unreasonable” and unacceptable.

Begin made his remarks at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting after a flurry of speculation in recent weeks that a national coalition might be under consideration. The speculation was touched off by the activity of Education Minister Zevulun Hammer who raised the idea in private talks with Begin and Labor Party leaders and by former Premier Yitzhak Rabin who said, in a published interview last week, that he would favor a Labor-Likud alliance provided the government thus formed established new guidelines.

Begin said yesterday that it was “a pity” Hammer was unable to elicit a positive response from the Labor Alignment. He said Rabin’s conditions — that Labor have veto power over new settlements on the West Bank, that basic policy lines be revised and that all parties pledge to hold new elections in one year — were absolutely unacceptable to Likud. Rabin, as “a serious politician” should have known this himself, Begin said.

He added, however, that he would like to see a unity government established and if Labor agreed to enter negotiations without pre-conditions, “I would be happy to invite them.”

Begin has made such offers in the past. Labor Party chairman Shimon Peres told a press conference in Tel Aviv last week that Begin had no intention of forming a coalition with Labor as an equal partner and therefore Labor could not possibly consider such a move.

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