JERUSALEM (Jul. 5)
The Labor Party’s Executive scheduled a meeting Thursday to consider breaking its coalition with Likud.
The step is being urged by many Laborites in view of what they consider onerous conditions imposed on the government’s peace initiative by the Likud Central Committee at its meeting Wednesday night in Tel Aviv.
Vice Premier Shimon Peres, the Labor Party leader, said the resolution adopted by Likud “very seriously handicaps the chances of progress” toward peace with the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir insisted that nothing has changed. “The Likud’s positions were no secret to anybody,” he said.
But Peres, who also serves as finance minister, told a television interviewer that the Labor Party would have to “consider its course.”
“I know there are some of our members who feel we should leave” the coalition with Likud, he said.
Peres said he would divulge his own position on that matter at the Executive meeting Thursday.
The Likud resolution flatly rules out participation by East Jerusalem Arabs in the Palestinian elections Shamir is proposing to choose delegates from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to negotiate with Israel.
The resolution insists, moreover, that the Palestinian uprising be totally crushed before the election process can begin.
AN EVE TOWARD U.S. REACTION
Those and other key points of the Likud resolution invest the ideologically neutral peace initiative, drafted by Shamir and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin of the Labor Party, with a strong Likud ideological flavor.
Peres said a majority of the Labor Party favors allowing East Jerusalem Arabs to participate in the elections, “without thereby damaging Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem or the unity of the city.”
Similarly, he said, Labor does not favor making the start of talks conditional upon the cessation of the uprising.
“The intifada must be put down” and independently “talks must begin at once, without any more delay,” Peres said.
But political observers do not believe Labor will act precipitously to dissolve the coalition, just because the Likud resolution is politically unacceptable to it.
The Laborites will watch closely the reaction of the American administration and the Congress to the Likud moves, before the party makes a decision, observers said.
In their view, if Likud’s resolution results in total derailment of the peace initiative, Labor will have no option but to quit the coalition.