Shimon Peres’ tenure as Foreign Minister began this week with an internal row that Peres managed to settle, but not to the complete satisfaction of all concerned. Premier Yitzhak Shamir, on the other hand, ensconced himself in office smoothly, choosing Herut hardliners as his top aides.
Peres’ troubles stemmed from his plan to divide the position of Director General of the Foreign Ministry between two men. This was necessary to create a senior post for Peres’ close associate, former Cabinet Secretary Yossi Beilin, after his nomination to be Israel’s next Ambassador to the U.S. was vetoed by Likud.
The Cabinet approved Peres’ plan Monday. But Avraham Tamir, who was slated to be Director General, balked. He refused to share his office with anyone else and threatened to resign. Tamir’s chief political patron, Minister-Without-Portfolio Ezer Weizman, was furious.
Tamir had served as Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office during the two years that Peres headed the Labor-Likud coalition government. Weizman also served in the Prime Minister’s Office as liaison for Arab affairs. He had planned to continue his functions in the Foreign Ministry but Attorney General Yosef Harish advised that this would be constitutionally incorrect.
PERES’ EFFORTS AT CONCILIATION PREVAILS
Peres’ efforts at conciliation prevailed and on Wednesday Tamir agreed, reluctantly, to a proposed compromise. He will serve as Director General with authority over Third World and Middle East affairs. Beilin’s ambit will be Europe, the United States and diplomatic appointments.
Nevertheless, Tamir would not conceal his disgruntlement and Weizman, twice frustrated and still angry, went abroad on vacation. Peres for his part is still pushing Beilin’s candidacy for Ambassador to Washington. Under the terms of an accord he signed with Shamir, the matter may be settled within three months. Peres is to submit a list of candidates for the all-important Washington post from which the Prime Minister will select the next Ambassador.
Peres formally handed over the office of Prime Minister to Shamir on Tuesday. The Likud leader named Yossi Ben-Aharon, a militant Herut ideologue, as Director General of his office. He had been Shamir’s bureau chief for many years.
The post of Chief of Bureau to the Prime Minister was assigned to Tzachi Hanegbi, son of Tehiya Party MK, Geula Cohen. Shamir retained his two spokesmen, Avi Pazner and Yossi Ahimeir.
Ehud Goll, a career diplomat, was appointed by Peres to be Foreign Ministry spokesman, the position formerly held by Pazner. Uri Savir will serve as media adviser and Chief of Bureau to Peres and Dr. Nimrod Novik continues as his policy adviser.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.