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Labor to Reconsider Joining Unity Coalition with Likud

The Labor Party’s 1,300-member Central Committee will convene Thursday to decide whether Labor should join Likud in a new government.

The latest development was announced after a meeting Tuesday between Labor Party leader Shimon Peres and President Chaim Herzog.

It followed Herzog’s unprecedented call Monday for a broad-based Likud-Labor coalition government. His intervention, which Herzog admitted was “unusual” for an Israeli chief of state, heartened elements in both major parties favoring such an alliance. Housing Minister David Levy of Likud said Tuesday that the chances for a broad-based government were “improving hourly.”

The president expressed his views Monday after giving Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, the Likud leader, another 21 days to try to put a government together. His original 21-day mandate expired Monday.

Shamir plans to wrap up negotiations soon with the ultra-Orthodox and extreme right-wing parties. Together, they would give Likud a 65-vote majority in the 120-member Knesset.

But the prime minister is said to be open still to a broad coalition with Labor. Shamir offered terms for such a government to Labor a week ago. Labor’s 120-member leadership bureau rejected his offer in a surprise move Nov. 30.

Peres and Labor’s No. 2 man, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin reiterated their support of a Labor-Likud alliance at a meeting Monday night with leaders of the party’s kibbutz and moshav wings.

But there are equally strong elements opposed. The party’s secretary-general, Uzi Baram, vowed to continue his drive against a unity government when the Central Committee convenes on Thursday.

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