JERUSALEM (Aug. 30)
A unity government with a rotating Premiership seemed today to be the likeliest outcome of the drawn out and complex coalition negotiations.
A Labor leadership meeting in Tel Aviv tonight was far less hostile to the idea of rotation than the party had been a few days earlier — and this correctly reflected the shift in fortunes that has taken place over the past four days.
Even as the Labor leaders met in Tel Aviv, Likud ministers Moshe Nissim, Haim Corfu and Ariel Sharon convened in Jerusalem with a leadership team from Agudat Israel to put the finishing touches to a Likud-Aguda accord that would prevent the pivotal two-seat Orthodox party from supporting a Labor-led narrow government.
Likud is hoping to conclude similar accords, written or verbal, with Morasha and with Tami. It has already signed such a pact with Shas.
This leaves Labor with no prospect of setting up either a narrow government of 61 or even a minority government of 55. (For this latter scenario, Labor would need Tami’s vote: it is now very unlikely that Tami would agree to this. Tami leaders admitted openly today that they were being offered inducements by Likud — including safe seats on Likud’s slate — which Labor could not match.)
BASIS FOR AGUDA’S DEAL
Aguda’s deal with Likud reportedly came at the behest of the party’s venerable sage, Rabbi Eliezer Schach of Bnai Berak. He was reported today as ordering the Aguda Knesset members to follow the line that Shas had taken and sign an accord with Likud in return for pledges in the areas or religious legislation and government budgets for Orthodox educational institutions.
Labor spokesmen have warned, however, that these pledges would not necessarily be implementable if a unity government is established. Likud for its part has undertaken to the two religious parties, Shas and Aguda, to protect their interests and position within the unity context.
NRP DECIDES TO STAY ALOOF
The National Religious Party, meeting in Tel Aviv today, decided to stay a loof of what its leader, Yosef Burg, termed “this race towards marketplace deals” with Likud. The party reiterated its consistent position supporting a unity government and rejecting a narrow government of whatever complexion.
The NRP declared that it would not negotiate with either of the major parties to form a bloc and would wish to participate in a unity government “independently” and not as an appendage to one of the big blocs.
Premier Yitzhak Shamir and Labor leader Shimon Peres are to meet again tomorrow morning but their “crucial” meeting, at which they will probably address themselves to the question of the Premiership and the other top portfolios, has been ten tatively scheduled for Sunday.
The two leaders apparently have resolved the issue of wording an invitation to Jordan to join in peace talks with Israel, and they have also agreed that new settlements would be erected only by an absolute majority of Cabinet ministers.
These two accords raised angry protests from Tehiya today. The rightwing party’s leader, Yuval Neeman, told reporters he belived his party would decline to join a unity government on those terms and would prefer to be in the opposition.
This, if it materialized, would weaken Likud’s position in the tussle over rotation-versus-a-Peres-Premiership. But observers believed Shamir would try strenuously to persuade Tehiya to join a unity government after all.