JERUSALEM (May. 23)
A new snag has developed in Yitzhak Shamir’s efforts to put together a narrow Likud-led coalition government.
But his troubles seem to have brought about a truce in the Labor Party, where former Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin has challenged Shimon Peres for the party leadership.
They also appear to improve the chances that the government that finally emerges from the protracted coalition negotiations will be one of national unity.
Shamir’s latest problem emerged when Rehavam Ze’evi announced Tuesday that his far right-wing Moledet faction would not join a new government if it subscribed to the Camp David accords in its policy guidelines.
Camp David is basic to Shamir’s peace policies, though he himself voted against the accords as a Likud backbencher in 1978.
Moreover, were he to abandon the accords, he would risk losing the support of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, whose spiritual mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, has made the vigorous pursuit of peace a prime condition for joining a Likud government.
But Shamir also needs Moledet’s two Knesset votes to form a government.
Ze’evi announced Monday that he had broken off negotiations with Likud. He predicted his party, which would solve the Palestinian problem by expelling Arabs from Israel and the territories, stands to win at least 10 Knesset seats if elections are held now.
CABINET ASSIGNMENTS AT STAKE
Many observers believe his quarrel with Likud is really over Cabinet assignments. Shamir’s lieutenants reportedly have been trying to mollify Ze’evi with the offer of the Transport Ministry.
Ze’evi, however, is said to be demanding the Police Ministry.
In a series of interviews Tuesday, he indicated he was personally offended by the Likud negotiators and accused them of tendentious leakage to the news media.
It was not clear from Ze’evi’s comments whether he would agree to support a Likud-led government in the Knesset without Moledet being represented in the Cabinet.
Political observers speculated that the break in negotiations between Likud and Moledet increased the chances of a new unity government ultimately emerging.
Peres, in Cairo for a session of the Socialist International, said Tuesday that his party would consider resuming the alliance with the Likud if it was sure the peace process would be advanced.
Rabin, meanwhile, agreed with Labor Party Secretary-General Micha Harish to defer his open challenge to Peres until it becomes clear whether or not Shamir can put together a government.