Begin Decides to Postpone Decision

Under intense pressure from Likud ministers and party members, Premier Menachem Begin indicated today he would postpone temporarily a final decision on the resignation he announced to a stunned Cabinet yesterday. Such a decision remains unofficial until it is submitted to the President.

Delegations of Likud activists come to Begin’s office, together with representatives of Begin’s Likud-led coalition and begged Begin to stay in office to assure continued Jewish settlement of the West Bank. They also told the Premier that the majority of the people wanted him to stay in office.

Some of the delegations blamed the Cabinet ministers for placing obstacles in Begin’s way and with having made life for him as Premier “unbearable.” Begin indicated he was not convinced by these remonstrations but agreed to postpone his answer to the appeals until later tonight or until tomorrow morning. But close associates kept asserting Begin intended to carry out his plan to resign.

BEGIN LISTENS TO APPEALS

Avraham Shapiro, chairman of the coalition, who attended the meeting with Begin, emerged to tell reporters that Begin had made no comments on the appeals but simply had listened. Shapiro said no mention had been made of a possible successor because the assumption of those making the appeals was that Begin should remain. An Aguda Knesset member, Menachem Porush, was more optimistic, declaring that Begin had “opened a gate of hope.”

Shlomo Lorincz, another Aguda Knesset deputy, said the trouble was that no one knew why Begin had decided to resign. Lorincz said he had told the Premier that “rather than that we spoke for hours,” Begin “should have told us what he thought.” He said he also told Begin that an explanation would have made it easier to persuade him to withdraw his planned resignation.

But, Lorincz reported, “Begin laughed when I said that and would not disclose his reasons for resigning.” The Premier told the Cabinet yesterday he intended to resign for “personal reasons.”

Despite Begin’s indication he was not going immediately to President Chaim Herzog to officially submit his resignation, political analysts here were reported to be convinced that he would do so. Widespread speculation has already started on what developments would follow.

Uri Porat, Begin’s press advisor, said after the meeting this morning that Begin had been deeply impressed by the arguments for his staying and had simply asked for more time to think it over. Ehud Olmert, a Likud deputy, said after the meeting that he thought Begin intended to proceed with his resignation but that the insistence of his supporters that he remain Premier had created a heavy dilemma for him.

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