JERUSALEM (Jul. 13)
Following is the Cabinet that Yitzhak Rabin presented Monday at the opening session of the 13th Knesset.
Rabin will retain the Defense Ministry for himself and temporarily hold the Religious Affairs and the Labor and Welfare posts, in the hope that additional parties will join his government.
Prime Minister, Defense Yitzhak Rabin Labor
Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres Labor
Finance Avraham Shohat Labor
Transportation Yisrael Kessar Labor
Commerce & Industry Micha Harish Labor
Justice David Libai Labor
Police, Communications Moshe Shahal Labor
Health Haim Ramon Labor
Housing & Construction B. Ben-Eliezer Labor
Environment Ora Namir Labor
Economic Development Shimon Shetreet Labor
Tourism Uzi Baram Labor
Agriculture Ya’acov Tsur Labor
Education & Culture Shulamit Aloni Meretz
Immigration & Absorption Yair Tsaban Meretz
Energy & Infrastructure A. Rubinstein Meretz
Interior Arye Deri Shas to test whether he truly intended to implement the policies he had enunciated.
Hadash apparently decided to follow suit, though it had earlier said it would abstain unless Shas failed to join the government.
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker welcomed Rabin’s offer to visit Arab capitals, saying, “I think that any time Arab nations and Israel can sit down face to face and talk peace it is a very good thing.”
In his Knesset address, Rabin urged Palestinians in the territories to set aside violence for the duration of the peace negotiations, but warned that there would be “no compromise” in suppressing unrest if the Israeli authorities had to act against it.
Palestinian leader Faisal Husseini reacted with interest to the new Israeli leader’s remarks and said he would call a news conference Tuesday to deliver his response.
But members of the outgoing government were decidedly less enthusiastic. Likud leader Yitzhak Shamir, who now becomes head of the opposition, termed the Rabin speech “bereft of vision.”
SHARON REMARKS TRIGGER OUTBURST
Speaking after Rabin, Shamir said the new government represents “a step downward in terms of government.” He flayed the Labor Party leader for having “offered a chimerical formula of peace now,” which he said was “akin to a nihilistic philosophy.”
The outgoing prime minister noted bitterly that Rabin had “not mentioned Eretz Yisrael” in his speech and proceeded to warn the government that the nation would not be prepared to give up its historic right to the “one and only” biblical Land of Israel.
In the lengthy debate that ensued, Ariel Sharon triggered a storm of interruptions when he insisted that Arabs have no political rights, only personal rights, in the Land of Israel.
The outgoing government’s hard-line Likud housing minister went on to claim that for the first time in Israel’s history, its Arab minority had determined the shape of its government in the election.
Darousha of the Arab Democratic Party, shouting from his seat above the gavel strokes of the newly installed Knesset speaker, Labor’s Shevach Weiss, accused Sharon of “incitement.”
In his speech, Rabin listed the new government’s order of priorities, which he stressed represent a marked difference from that which has gone before.
In the top spot, he put “security, personal and national,” followed by “making peace and preventing war.” Then came combating unemployment, promoting aliyah, furthering economic growth, strengthening Israel’s democracy, ensuring equality for all its citizens and safeguarding human rights.
“We will change the national order of priorities,” he declared repeatedly. “There are tremendous expectations directed toward us, at home and abroad,” and Israel is “fully aware of them.”
“There is a sense in our nation that this is a propitious moment in time. There will be strug- gles, disappointments and tears,” he said, “but we will strive for a better Israel.”
He pledged his government would work with other states to ensure that there is no proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
UPROAR OVER ALONI CONTINUES
On the social front, he proposed introducing longer school days in development towns, beginning with the new school year in September.
Rehearsing key parts of the coalition accords, Rabin said the Education Ministry, under Shulamit Aloni of Meretz, would continue to ensure that all Israel’s children received a grounding in the national and religious heritage.
Aloni’s appointment continued to provoke outpourings of wrath throughout the day from the Ashkenazic leadership of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox haredi community, which views the sharp-tongued politician as hostile to the religious establishment.
Declaring that Aloni would “lead 1 million children to apostasy,” a group of leading haredi rabbis issued a halachic ban on any Knesset member joining the government.
This was intended primarily to put intense pressure on the Sephardic haredi Shas party to revoke its agreement to join the Labor coalition.
But the six Shas members of Knesset all voted in favor of the new government, at the instruction of their spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, chairman of the Shas Council of Sages.
Labor Party leaders expect the uproar over Aloni to subside eventually, once it is shown that she will not use the new post to go on an anti-religious crusade. They are even still hoping to entice the Ashkenazic United Torah Judaism party to join the government.
To this end, Rabin told the Knesset that he is keeping both the Religious Affairs Ministry and the Labor and Welfare Ministry under his own control for the present, in the hope that new coalition partners will eventually take them up.