JERUSALEM (Jan. 4)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin will find himself in trouble with his existing government partners if he heeds a call by 17 hawkish members of his own Labor Party to reopen coalition talks with two parties on the right.
For different reasons, the left-wing Meretz bloc and the fervently Orthodox Shas party have both voiced strong objections to the idea of broadening the coalition by bringing in the right-wing Tsomet party and the National Religious Party.
Meretz leaders are still smarting over rankand-file unhappiness at their support for a Dec. 16 Cabinet decision to deport 415 Moslem fundamentalist activists to Lebanon.
At a party meeting Sunday night with Meretz Ministers Shulamit Aloni and Amnon Rubinstein, a significant number of members reiterated the party’s right, enshrined in the coalition agreement, to veto the accession of any other party to the government.
As for Shas, its leader, Interior Minister Arye Deri, is implacably opposed to turning over the Religious Affairs portfolio to the National Religious Party.
The NRP “held it for four decades, and we were discriminated against,” said Deri. “We are not going to let that happen again.”
Rafael Pinhasi of Shas was last week appointed deputy minister of religious affairs, with formal responsibility for the ministry remaining in Rabin’s hands.