Weizman Threatens to Pull His Yahad Party out of Labor Coalition

Minister-Without-Portfolio Ezer Weizman is threatening to pull his Yahad Party out of its alignment with the Labor Party in the unity coalition, reportedly because he is frustrated over the lack of a meaningful role in the government.

He is scheduled to meet privately with Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, the Labor Party leader, to try to iron out their differences. Yahad has three Knesset seats and its defection would weaken the Labor Party vis-a-vis Likud.

Weizman’s office is housed in the Foreign Ministry, but he complains he has no real input in policymaking. During Peres’ tenure as Premier, before the rotation of power last October, Weizman was attached to the Prime Minister’s Office and was active in Arab affairs and as a liaison to Egypt.

But since Peres changed jobs with Yitzhak Shamir, Weizman claims there has been a sluggishness over peace initiatives on Peres’ part. He is also disenchanted by the foot dragging with respect to appointments of some of his colleagues to key posts, such as Mordechai Hod to be chairman of Israel Aviation Industries.

Weizman attacked the unity coalition government last Thursday for what he claimed was a lack of achievement in the field of foreign policy and the pursuit of peace. He told a meeting of the Contractors Association that he was “in a fighting mood” and would be willing to negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization if the PLO accepted the key United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

“If Israel sits back and waits for a telephone call (from the Arab states) it will get an artillery shell,” Weizman said. “The time has come for us to initiate the telephone calls to the Arabs.”

The contractors, mostly right-wingers or members of Likud, attacked Weizman for leaving Likud and entering into a “covenant” with Peres. Weizman, a former Air Force commander, entered politics through Likud when he was Menachem Begin’s campaign manager in the 1977 elections. He served as Defense Minister in Begin’s first government.

Answering his critics, Weizman admitted he had changed his politics. “Anybody who doesn’t change his mind in view of changing circumstances is simply a nobody,” he said. He charged that there are “only four Ministers in the government,” Premier Yitzhak Shamir, Peres, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Finance Minister Moshe Nissim. According to Weizman, they run the show. “The other Cabinet Ministers are a Parliament and the Knesset as a whole has become a House of Lords,” he said.

NEXT STORY