Rotation is Completed: Knesset Approves Shamir’s Cabinet; New Premier Stresses National Unity
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Rotation is Completed: Knesset Approves Shamir’s Cabinet; New Premier Stresses National Unity

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Premier Yitzhak Shamir’s 25-member Cabinet won Knesset approval Monday by a vote of 82-17 with three abstentions. In a 40-minute address preceding the vote of confidence, Shamir said his government would focus mainly on economic affairs during the final two years of its tenure but would also vigorously pursue the peace process.

He stressed the “unity of the nation,” said that U.S.-Israel relations were at an “unprecedented peak” and expressed hope that the Eastern European bloc, “first and foremost” the Soviet Union, would change their attitude toward Israel.

Shamir emphasized that “Like its predecessor, this government will be a government of national unity… It will refrain from divisiveness and extremism, will strive for mutual respect and consideration for others, and will seek to augment the love of Israel within us.”


He said that both Likud and the Labor Party shared the aim of a strong and economically sound Israel living at peace with its Arab neighbors. He said the differences between the main coalition partners were not over aims but over the tactics needed to achieve those aims.

“National unity is not just a matter of parliamentary convenience,” Shamir said. “Those who conceived the idea of the unity government hoped and desired that by virtue of its very formation and existence, that government would project a message of unity, of drawing closer together, of love of love of Israel, and of true cooperation among the country’s political leadership and between all the strata of the population in the country.

“These goals have already been achieved to a certain extent, and government I head will indeed make the unity of the nation its chief concern,” Shamir said.


Shamir termed the government’s economic program a “Zionist economy.” Its goals, he said, are “reducing inflation to acceptable levels in order to attract immigration and ensure economic growth with work available for all newcomers, and the settlement of the entire Eretz Israel–the Biblical land of Israel or Palestine.”

According to Shamir, “The unity government which has just concluded the first half of its term of office, has already registered some not inconsiderable achievements–in the economy, in labor relations, in foreign policy, in the war against Arab terrorism, and in fortifying Israel’s security.”

He expressed his “thanks and appreciation to the outgoing Prime Minister, Mr. Shimon Peres, for the understanding and cooperation he accorded me during the two years (of Peres’ tenure), and to wish him the best in his next position” as Foreign Minister.

Shamir presented an essentially conservative economic program. “We have to adopt the rule of refraining as far as possible from any government intervention in the economic sector, unless the need to do so has been proven,” he said.

“In any other case, there is no place for subsidies, for incentives, for grants, or for providing free services to everyone–which constitute the reason for heavy taxation.” He said however that encouragement should be given “any manifestation of initiative, action, originality and the assumption of personal responsibility.”

He pledged that “Every working citizen will be able to earn a living with dignity and the State will be able to look forward to economic growth and augmented aliya, the Zionist goal for whose sake the State of Israel was established and exists.”


He conceded that reviving economic growth will be difficult. “Yet this is the true challenge. Economic growth does not mean only a growth in the national product that enables a higher standard of living and reduced dependence on foreign aid. Economic growth signifies, first of all, creating the conditions that will allow us to fulfill the country’s Zionist goals–and above all, aliya.

“This means that we must concentrate on those changes that will permit new immigrants to live and earn a living in this country. We will have to struggle to cut back on every non-essential government expenditure. We must place the emphasis on a concrete effort to reduce the burden of taxation–a taxation which hinders the emergence of new places of employment for our young people, for demobilized soldiers, and for new immigrants.”

Shamir added that it was no “exaggeration to term the economic system which the government will seek to forge a ‘Zionist economy’ — an economy that will not be based only on solid economic principles but also on the Zionist values which must be our guide, and among them the supreme value of settlement throughout Eretz Yisrael. We will not discriminate between one part of the country and the other…”


He said, “We want to assure the Arab residents of Judaea, Samaria (West Bank) and the Gaza district a life of dignity and a life of peaceful co-existence with their Jewish neighbors. It is our aspiration that these Arab residents will be able to run their affairs by themselves. But the necessary condition for this is absolute severance from the various terrorist organizations. The PLO with its various branches poses the danger to their future and well-being and it is the obstacle to a settlement and to peace.”

He invited the Arabs of the administered territories who reject terrorism to enter into dialogue with Israelis. He also promised “to ensure Israeli Arabs their rights and the advancement of their living conditions.” He appealed to Arab “public figures and educators” in Israel “to exert their influence in order to deepen the affinity and loyalty of Israeli Arabs toward the State” and to serve as “a bridge between Israel and its Arab neighbors … (to) expedite understanding and peace in the region.”


Shamir pledged that “The government will continue indefatigably to create conditions that will enable Israel and Jordan to live in peace alongside each other. But we will not be able to attain this without free, direct, face-to-face discussion. No international forum can serve as a substitute for direct negotiatios.

“It is also perfectly clear that peace and the terrorist organizations cannot coexist, and therefore we are following with interest Jordan’s trend to free itself of any relationship with the PLO,” Shamir said. He expressed regret that “despite efforts of the government, with the assistance of representatives of the United States government, Jordan has not yet responded to our call to come to the negotiation table.”

“The State of Israel has more than once proved its sincere desire for peace through the difficult and painful sacrifices made, both in life and property, within the framework of the various agreements with its neighbors, up to and including the peace treaty with Egypt,” Shamir said.

He said that although there are disputes within the government over tactics, “not over essence and goals,” there is “no point or purpose in fanning the dispute amongst ourselves so long as the Arab side has not presented a proposal that is acceptable to even part of the government.”

But Shamir stressed that “We shall not sit idly by. The government will continue to initiate and seek ways to peace and we shall not let the initiative fall from our hands.”


He said the government will continue to adhere to the basic guidelines continuing the peace process, as agreed to at Comp David. But within those guidelines “Israel will oppose the establishment of an additional Palestinian state in the Gaza district and between Israel and Jordan and will not negotiate with the PLO.”

Shamir hailed Israel’s relations with the U.S. which, he said, reached an “unprecedented peak” after President Reagan’s 1983 endorsement of strategic cooperation between the two countries. “President Reagan thus laid the foundation for a very close framework of cooperation which has increasingly developed since,” Shamir said.

“In the past two years, we continued to consolidate and foster these important relations. Today we have reached a situation when Israel and the U.S. are allies in many spheres, and formal expression should be given to this network of relation. The government will persist in developing special relations with the U.S., our great friend, and will give this topic high priority.”

Shamir expressed hope that there will be “a change of heart on the part of the Eastern bloc countries” toward Israel, “first and foremost the USSR.”

“Nonetheless,” he said, “it is our duty as a Jewish State to demand of the Soviet government to change its attitude toward our people living in its territory and to allow them to live as Jews, to unite with their people and to immigrate to their homeland.”

In his peroration, Shamir declared: “From Jerusalem must go forth a call to our people in all parts of the diaspora: Come back home, for Eretz Yisrael is your place. We will receive you with open arms in order to continue marching together toward the great and glorious chapter in the history of our people: The chapter of perfect redemption of the Jewish people in its land.”

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