Labor Party Sharply Divided over New Posts; Rabin May Return Mandate
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Labor Party Sharply Divided over New Posts; Rabin May Return Mandate

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Premier-designate Yitzhak Rabin may be forced to return his mandate to President Ephraim Katzir tomorrow unless he can persuade a sharply divided Labor Party to accept the new coalition Cabinet he presented to it over the weekend. The Party’s executive committee and Knesset faction was to have voted Saturday night on Rabin’s coalition but postponed the vote until after the Shavuot holiday because of a bitter dispute over the distribution of key portfolios.

Rabin’s mandate to form a government expires tomorrow and while he can ask the President for another 10-day extension, he is not expected to. Rabin has hinted he will quit the Party leadership to which he was elected April 22 if he fails to via approval of his proposed Cabinet.

The Party is badly split along factional lines and two key ministers have already given notice that they will not serve in the new Rabin government. Foreign Minister Abba Eban, who Rabin named Information Minister, declared flatly that he considered it a demotion and denounced the Party’s leadership for “sucking the last drop of service” out of people “before getting rid of them.” Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir, re-appointed to that poet by Rabin, has made it clear that he meant it when he said he wanted to leave government service.


The Mapai faction has demanded that Eban be made Deputy Premier if he is removed from the Foreign Ministry. Yigal Allon, who Rabin has named Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister, will not relinquish the Deputy Premiership which he has held in the outgoing Meir government to make room for Eban. His faction, Achdut Avoda, has demanded the Defense Ministry post for Allon if Eban is assigned the Deputy Premiership. But Rabin has assigned the Defense portfolio to Shimon Peres of the Rafi faction.

The Cabinet Rabin proposed is not a complete one. The ministries of interior, religious affairs and welfare, traditionally held by the National Religious Party, were left vacant in the hope that the NRP will reconsider its decision not to participate in the new government. Four of Rabin’s designated ministers have been assigned no portfolios. They are Israel Galili and Aharon Yariv of Labor; Gideon Hausner of the Independent Liberal Party; and Shulamit Aloni of the Civil Rights Party. The ILP and CRP have agreed to join Rabin’s coalition to form a government that would control only 61 Knesset votes, the slimmest majority in Israel’s history.

The portfolios assigned by Rabin are the following: Premier Yitzhak Rabin; Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister, Yigal Allon; Defense Minister, Shimon Peres; Finance Minister, Pinhas Sapir; Education Minister, Aharon Yadlin; Information Minister, Abba Eban; Minister of Commerce and Industry, Haim Barlev; Labor Minister, Moshe Bar’Am; Police Minister, Shlomo Hillel; Transportation Minister. Gad Yaacobi; Justice Minister, Haim Zadok; Absorption Minister, Shlomo Rosen; Minister of Tourism, Moshe Kol; Housing Minister, Yehoshua Rabinowitz; Health Minister, Victor Shemtov; Minister of Agriculture, Aharon Uzzan.

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