JERUSALEM (Sep. 6)
The Likud negotiating team continued meetings with representatives of the coalition parties today but it was apparent to all concerned that no agreement on the composition of a new government will be reached before the Rosh Hashana holiday which begins at sundown tomorrow.
Premier Menachem Begin has delayed submitting his formal resignation to President Chaim Herzog. He cancelled a meeting with Herzog today, although the meeting had been arranged two weeks ago, before Begin announced his intention to quit. It was to have been a formal call on the President to convey New Year greetings. But Begin apparently will not visit Herzog until he is ready to formalize his resignation.
His delay, obviously intended to give Likud more time to hammer out a new coalition agreement, drew fire from the opposition today. Civil Rights Movement MK Shulamit Aloni asked Attorney General Yitzhak Zamir for a legal opinion as to whether Begin’s dilatoriness was contrary “to the spirit of the law.”
Education Minister Zevulun Hammer of the National Religious Party said after a meeting with Likud negotiators today that he expected the coalition talks to be completed next week.
Aguda Israel MK Avraham Shapira was also optimistic. He said there has been “tremendous progress” so far. But some of the coalition parties are also feeling out the opposition Labor Alignment on the possibility of a Labor-led coalition. NRP representatives were scheduled to meet with Laborites today.
LEGISLATION IN THE KNESSET STALLED
Meanwhile, the political bargaining process is having effects on the Knesset’s ability to move legislation. The Finance Committee failed today for the third time to act on urgent measures to raise prices for electricity and fuel in order to hold down the government’s soaring deficits.
The committee was paralyzed because Aharon Abu Hatzeira of the Tami faction, a coalition partner, deliberately absented himself, depriving the government of its majority. He was apparently making the point that without Tami’s three Knesset mandates the coalition could not function. Tami, which represents a Sephardic constituency, is demanding social legislation in return for participating in a new Likud-led government.