Tel Aviv (Dec. 27)
Widespread reports in the Israeli media that Premier Menachem Begin was considering calling for new elections, possibly as early as next February, to increase the Likud’s Knesset strength, have been denied by a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office.
According to the reports, Begin has asked the Justice Ministry if there was a legal basis for early elections and was told that a special law dissolving the present Knesset could be adopted. But political experts doubt that he could muster the 61 votes in parliament necessary to pass it.
According to the media reports, Begin reasons that his popularity is at an all time peak and new elections would substantially increase Likud’s slim majority over the opposition Labor Alignment which is presently seriously divided. He would regard the outcome of the elections as a referendum on Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights and any other measures he might take.
Some officials said Begin leaked his inquiry to the Justice Ministry to put his coalition partners on notice that they had better support his policies. The Premier reportedly was annoyed with the Agudat Israel party for not voting on the Golan annexation bill and for objecting vociferously to delays in the payment of special subventions for their yeshivas and other religious institutions.