Rabin Said to Be Considering a Reshuffling of Cabinet Posts

The latest speculation about a reshuffle in Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s Cabinet has Shulamit Aloni becoming foreign minister, Shimon Peres moving to the Finance Ministry and Avraham Shohat becoming education minister.

The purpose of the ministerial shifts would be to ease Aloni out of the Education Ministry, where her continued and controversial presence is seen as an almost insurmountable obstacle to Rabin’s wish of gaining a coalition ally in the United Torah Front, an Ashkenazic Orthodox party.

Rumors of an imminent musical chairs game were attributed to a “senior source” in the religious community cited by the daily newspaper Ha’aretz.

Aloni’s tenure is regarded as a time bomb that could shatter the stability of the existing coalition. Rabin’s dominant Labor Party currently enjoys a parliamentary majority with the help of ideological opposites: the Sephardic Orthodox party Shas and the left-wing secular Meretz bloc, headed by Aloni.

Rabin has stated that motions of no confidence by opposition religious parties, to be debated early in the upcoming new Knesset term, could embarrass the Shas Knesset members and force them to quit the Coalition.

The latest speculation comes in the wake of a meeting Wednesday between Rabin and the United Torah Judaism Knesset members, which both sides staunchly maintained was not devoted to coalition politics.

Speaking later to reporters, Rabin nevertheless made a point of indicating he still hopes to be able to broaden his coalition before the new Knesset session starts.

“Let’s wait and see,” he said in reply to questions.

Sources in United Torah Judaism said the premier spoke harshly of Aloni’s recent controversial statements on religious issues, which provoked the current crisis. But they maintained there was no direct talk of United Torah coming into the coalition or of possible conditions for its doing so.

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