JERUSALEM (Jul. 25)
Likud and the Labor Alignment, both denied a clear-cut mandate by the voters in Monday’s Knesset elections, are seeking possible coalition partners among the small parties with which, in various combinations, they could conceivably form a viable government.
Premier Yitzhak Shamir and Labor Party chairman Shimon Peres was each engaged in consultations throughout the day with various faction leaders. Shamir met separately in his Jerusalem office with Yosef Burg, of the National Religious Party, Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz, head of the new religious faction, Shas, and with the leaders of Tehiya, Morasha and the Aguda Israel.
Both Labor and Likud are ardently wooing former Defense Minister Ezer Weizman whose new Yahad Party emerged from the elections with three Knesset seats. Weizman had a lengthy meeting with Peres yesterday and lunched today with Likud’s No. 2 man, Deputy Premier David Levy. He announced last night that he favored a national unity government, headed by “the largest faction” which, as of today, appears to be Labor.
The vote count so far gives Labor 45 Knesset mandates to 41 for Likud. But the final returns will not be in until late tomorrow when the soldiers’ vote is announced. Likud clearly hopes that those results will give it at least one additional seat and one for its ally, the ultra-nationalist Tehiya Party, at the expense of Labor or one of Labor’s allies.
In that event, Likud could put together a very narrow coalition without the support of Weizman. It would also be in a better position to head a national unity government if such should emerge.