JERUSALEM (Sep. 20)
Most political observers consider it certain that President Chaim Herzog will call tomorrow on Likud leader Yitzhak Shamir to form the next government of Israel, consisting of the present coalition parties which command 64 seats in the Knesset, a clear majority.
As Herzog completed his consultations with all Knesset factions tonight, the consensus was that the President has no choice but to delegate the task to Shamir, the incumbent Foreign Minister. Apart from Labor, none of the parties which met with the President thought Labor Party leader Shimon Peres has a realistic chance to form an alternative coalition government.
Only two tiny leftist opposition parties, Shinui and Hadash (Communists), recommended that the President give Peres a chance. The three-member Tami Knesset faction, a partner in the Likud-led coalition, called on Herzog to nominate both Shamir and Peres and urge them to get together to create a national unity government.
Independent MK Mordechai Ben-Porat favored Shamir because he is pledged to try to set up a national government whereas Peres has given no such promise. If Herzog summons Shamir tomorrow, as expected, it will mark only the beginning of the process of reassembling the coalition, headed by Menachem Begin until his formal resignation last Thursday.
The smaller parties have made it clear that the bargaining process has not ended and that they intend to extract as many concessions as possible before signing a new coalition accord.
Under the law, Shamir will have 21 days to form a government. If he fails within that time he can ask for an extension.