JERUSALEM (Mar. 2)
Premier Menachem Begin’s Likud-led coalition will lose its one seat majority in the Knesset with the resignation of Rabbi Haim Druckman, a member of the National Religious Party who is Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs.
Druckman, an active opponent of Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai, announced today that he was quitting the Knesset–though not the NRP — because he could not support the government’s intention to carry out the withdrawal next month. He said he would submit his letter of resignation to Interior Minister Yosef Burg when the latter returns from on overseas trip later this week.
Druckman, an ardent supporter of the Gush Emunim, recently toured the United States with a group of Israelis opposed to the Sinai withdrawal. His lobbying against the government’s policy among American Jews brought him under severe criticism at home. But Begin defended his right to advocate his views. In his letter to Burg, Druckman stated that he could no longer be part of a government that withdraws from “an integral part of Eretz Israel.”
The NRP, Begin’s largest coalition partner, is not expected to force Druckman out of the party because he represents a relatively large constituency of NRP voters. The coalition, meanwhile, is expected to make major efforts to convince the two member Telem faction to join the coalition in order to restore its Knesset majority. Telem was founded by the late Moshe Dayan shortly before last June’s Knesset elections.