JERUSALEM (Oct. 17)
Yigal Cohen-Orgad, a 46-year-old Herut Knesset member, was named Israel’s new Minister of Finance today, replacing Yoram Aridor who resigned last Thursday. Premier Yitzhak Shamir, who met with Cohen-Orgad this morning, delayed making an official announcement of the appointment. He is expected to do so late today or tomorrow.
Cohen-Orgad, who holds a bachelor degree in economics and heads the Likud caucus in the Knesset Finance Committee, is a political hawk, an admirer of the Gush Emunim and has a home and business interests in the West Bank. Like Shamir and Defense Minister Moshe Arens, he opposed the peace treaty with Egypt and was one of the 18 Knesset members who voted against it in 1979.
POLITICAL STORM EXPECTED
His appointment to the Cabinet is expected to raise a political storm in Likud’s Liberal Party wing which had its own candidates for the Treasury post–Energy Minister Yitzhak Modai or Commerce and Industry Minister Gideon Patt.
The Liberal Knesset faction met in emergency session today. One member was quoted as saying, “expect thunder and lightning, the reaction will be sharp.” Another Liberal MK, Pinhas Goldstein, predicted that the appointment of Cohen-Orgad brings the end of the Likud government closer.
Cohen-Orgad, who spoke briefly to reporters after leaving Shamir’s office, refused to confirm or deny that he was given the finance portfolio. He said the Cabinet and the Knesset would make the appointment. Shamir, however, was under pressure to name a successor to Aridor.
Knesset Speaker Menahem Savidor warned that if there is no decision by tomorrow, he would give the green light for motions of no-confidence by the opposition.
PROFILE OF COHEN-ORGAD
Cohen-Orgad was born in Tel Aviv in 1937, the son of immigrants from Poland. His father was in the lumber business. He was a member of Betar, the Herut youth movement. He was elected to the Knesset in 1977, In recent months he has been an outspoken critic of the economic policies of Aridor, a Herut colleague, and was rebuked at a meeting of the Herut Central Committee for the sharpness of his language.
In a recent radio interview, Cohen-Orgad called for a “social contract” between the government, His-tadrut and private employers. He said if such a pact did not materialize, it was the government’s duty to go ahead with the process of economic recovery.
The main economic goal of the government, according to Cohen-Orgad is renewed economic growth “on the basis of a healthy economic infrastructure.” He proposed that people with the highest incomes bear the heaviest tax burden and should receive reduced cost-of-living increments. But he opposed any cuts in Dollar and c.o.l.-linked savings accounts, shelters for the more affluent sectors.
With the appointment of Cohen-Orgad apparently final, Shamir may try to appease his Liberal coalition partners with another senior Cabinet post, such as the Foreign Ministry which he retained after becoming Prime Minister. Modai is known to want that portfolio. But it is also sought by his Liberal colleague, Deputy Premier David Levy.