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New Liberal Minister for Cabinet

The Knesset is expected to approve tomorrow the appointment to the Cabinet of Likud-Liberal MK Sara Doron as a Minister-Without-Portfolio, despite strong opposition from the Agudat Israel which does not like her liberal views on abortion and other matters involving the State’s relationship with the Orthodox religious establishment.

Doron had also been opposed by a faction within her own Liberal Party headed by Energy Minister Yitzhak Modai. But this faded after the death last month of Deputy Premier Simcha Ehrlich, a Liberal Party leader. Apparently an agreement was reached within the party to back Pessah Grupper, Modai’s choice to replace Ehrlich as Minister of Agriculture, provided Doron wins Knesset endorsement.

CONFLICTS WITH RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT

The Liberals have been the main force within the Likud coalition blocking legislation demanded by the religious parties and supported by Premier Menachem Begin. Liberal MKs were considered responsible for the 58-50 defeat of the “Who is a Jew” amendment when it was brought before the Knesset at the Aguda’s insistence last March 21.

Another controversial measure likely to bring the Liberals into conflict with the Orthodox parties is the pending “archaeological bill” which the Liberals have promised to support. The nature of the bill is unclear. The religious parties demand that the Chief Rabbinate be given sole authority to approve archaeological digs to make sure that ancient Jewish cemeteries are not disturbed.

The Liberals are willing to keep the Rabbinate in the picture “should Jewish graves be uncovered” but refuse to give it a veto over archaeological excavations. Religious elements were agitated this week by the Education Ministry’s decision to allow excavations in the controversial Area G along the southern wall of the Old City. (See separate story.)

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