JERUSALEM (Nov. 16)
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin recommended Wednesday that the Labor Party join a broad-based coalition government led by Likud Premier Yitzhak Shamir, provided that certain conditions are met.
Rabin, a former prime minister and a powerful force in Labor, said his party would have to be given two of the four senior Cabinet posts in the new government.
Apart from prime minister, they are minister of defense, foreign minister and finance minister.
Shamir is said by many to prefer Rabin as defense minister to Ariel Sharon, his rival for leadership of Likud’s dominant Herut faction.
Rabin said he thought Likud ought to keep the foreign ministry and give Labor the treasury. He said that such an arrangement would make it easier for the prime minister and the foreign minister to implement a practical approach to peacemaking.
According to Rabin, Likud favors direct talks under a superpower umbrella.
In addition to the top portfolios, Rabin said, Labor would have to have the same number of ministers as Likud in the new Cabinet.
There would also need to be a mechanism in the Inner Cabinet, the government’s top policymaking body, to prevent either Likud or Labor from imposing its policies.
Shamir already has President Chaim Herzog’s mandate to form a new government. It is based on the support of the four religious parties, whose 18 Knesset seats would give Likud and its right-wing allies a governing majority in the 120-member Knesset.
But Herzog made clear in his talk with Shamir Monday that he favored a more broadly based government, and Shamir appeared to agree it was desireable.
Rabin conceded that Labor could not insist on complete parity with Likud in the new government, but that it should demand equality and partnership.
In retrospect, Rabin said, it was a mistake for Labor not to have joined the Likud-led government of Premier Menachem Begin in 1981. He thought the Lebanon war might not have happened if that had been done.