JERUSALEM (Dec. 21)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has put off a planned meeting with the leader of the Tsomet party, and observers say it is now less likely he will bring the right-wing faction into his governing coalition.
Both Tsomet and the National Religious Party said they were interested in joining the Labor-led coalition following the government’s decision last week to expel 415 Moslem fundamentalists from the administered territories.
But observers predict they will be rebuffed because the left-wing Meretz bloc, now the senior coalition partner, has threatened to quit at once should either Tsomet or the National Religious Party join.
Rabin, who has long courted Tsomet in an effort to broaden his parliamentary base, put off a scheduled meeting Monday with its leader, Rafael Eitan.
His move came after Tsomet and NRP said they sought assurances before entering into substantive coalition negotiations with Labor that Rabin was “not committed to Meretz’s veto.”
For all Rabin’s desire to bring Tsomet in, he would be unlikely to sacrifice his alliance with Meretz in order to achieve that end, political observers said.
Meretz, which is in deep crisis over the deportation decision, is determined to reassure its rank and file of its resoluteness by walking out the moment either Tsomet or NRP walk in. A large faction within Meretz has deplored the expulsions.