JERUSALEM (Aug. 23)
The Labor Alignment suffered a setback today in its effort to form a narrow-based government when the National Religious Party and Tami announced that they would not join it.
Both parties informed Premier-designate Shimon Peres that they would support only a broad-based national unity government. The NRP has four seats in the Knesset and Tami has one. Without these seats, plus at least one more, the Alignment would lack a majority in the 120-member Knesset, despite the fact that it has the allegiance of four of the 13 small parties.
Another religious party, the Agadat Israel, with two seats, is continuing to send conflicting signals. On Tuesday, its MKs spoke on television of “reconsidering” leaving the Likud bloc in favor of Labor, but yesterday they backed off, in radio interviews, explaining that the party’s mentor, Rabbi Eliezer Shach, has instructed them to remain allied with Likud for the time being.
Labor’s chances for forming a narrow-based government received a boost yesterday when Ezer Weizman’s three-seat Yahad Party joined in a parliamentary bloc with Labor and in turn was given the option of having three safe seats on Labor’s ticket in the next election — two of the Labor Party and one of Mapam.
Former Finance Minister Yigael Hurvitz, whose party, Courage to Cure the Economy, won one Knesset seat, said Wednesday night that although he was deeply convinced that the nation needed a unity government, he would be prepared to join a narrow-based Labor led government “if Likud illogically rejects” Peres’ unity offer.
Meanwhile, negotiations between the Alignment and Likud are continuing in an attempt to resolve differences over Jewish settlements in the West Bank, favored by Likud but opposed by Labor.