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Knesset Approves First Woman in Begin Cabinet

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The Knesset voted 62-50 yesterday to approve the appointment to the Cabinet of Liberal-Likud MK Sarah Doron as a Minister-Without-Portfolio. There was one abstention.

Doron will be the first woman in the all male Cabinets presided over by Premier Menachem Begin since Likud was first elected to office in 1977. There had been considerable opposition to her, not necessarily on the basis of sex. The Orthodox Aguda Israel party objected strenuously to Doron’s liberal positions on abortion and on the relationship of the State to the religious establishment.

But that opposition seemed to abate as her nomination was brought to a vote, leading Labor opposition MKs to suggest that a “deal” had been made with the Aguda on the controversial “Who is a Jew” amendment which Likud’s Liberal Party wing vigorously opposed. The defeat of that amendment which would make invalid conversions to Judaism by non-Orthodox rabbis, was attributed to the Liberal MKs. It was rejected by a 58-50 vote when submitted to the Knesset last March.

BEGIN COMMITMENT TO AGUDA

According to unconfirmed reports, Begin has recently written to the Aguda leaders that he is “committed to make every effort” to secure a Knesset majority for the amendment. He had made similar pledges to the Aguda in the past to “do his best” for the amendment but without reference to a “commitment.” Some opposition MKs suspect that Begin intends to exert pressure on the Liberals not to oppose the amendment when it is next raised in the Knesset, probably after the summer recess.

The opposition also noted that Doron would be the 21st minister in a government which also includes eight deputy ministers. They observed that this was hardly the “compact and streamlined government” Begin had promised in his election campaigning.

Doron will be replacing former Energy Minister Yitzhak Berman who resigned from the government last September following the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps massacre. The death last month of Deputy Premier and Agriculture Minister Simcha Ehrlich left vacant another Liberal Party Cabinet seat. The agriculture portfolio is now expected to go to Pessah Gruper who is presently Deputy Minister of Agriculture.

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