Shamir Hopes to Present New Coalition Government This Week

Premier-designate Yitzhak Shamir hopes to present the Knesset with a new coalition government by Wednesday, Deputy Premier David Levy said today after a meeting of the coalition executive committee.

Levy said the new coalition would be identical with the outgoing one. Talks for a national unity government with the Labor Alignment collapsed last Friday apparently over unreconcilable differences between Labor and Likud on foreign policy and settlements on the West Bank.

Shamir was scheduled to meet late today with six Likud MKs who have been insisting that a national unity government be formed. One of them, Yigael Hurwitz, a former Finance Minister, said last night that he would not support a government headed by Shamir if it turned out Likud was responsible for the break down of talks with Labor. Three Labor MKs are also strongly behind a national unify regime.

Shamir is expected to promise his six Likud colleagues that the door will remain open for Labor to join a united coalition. But if he is unable to secure their support, his new government would fall short of Knesset majority and early elections will be necessary.

Today’s Cabinet meeting was limited to one hour because of the ongoing coalition negotiations. Premier Menachem Begin was absent, as he has been since he announced his intention to resign four weeks ago. Cabinet secretary Dan Meridor told reporters that Begin, who officially heads the caretaker government, was well and “functioning as Premier from his home.” He receives accounts of all State affairs and meets with whomever he has to meet, Meridor said.

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