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Cabinet Approves Ministerial Changes


The Cabinet yesterday approved several long expected ministerial changes. Construction and Housing Minister Gideon Patt was appointed Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, a portfolio vacant for three months since the former minister, Yigael Hurwitz, resigned in protest against the Camp David agreements.

Absorption Minister David Levy was appointed Minister of Construction and Housing, replacing Patt. Levy will continue to serve as Minister of Absorption until the fate of his ministry is decided. The government intends to abolish that ministry in line with the recommendations of the Horev Committee two years ago.

An authority for immigration and absorption to be run jointly by the Jewish Agency and the government is slated to replace the ministry Levy, as Minister of Construction and Housing, will probably chair the new authority. However, no decision to that effect has been made yet.

Yitzhak Modai, Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, was also appointed Minister of Communications, replacing Meir Amit who resigned last September when the Democratic Movement for. Change (DMC) split and the newly formed Shai party quit the coalition.

Amit’s other ministry, the Ministry of Transportation, which was traditionally in the hands of the Minister of Communications, was handed to Begin’s aid friend and Herut associate, Haim Landau who has been serving as Minister Without Portfolio. In recent months, Landau handled several pressing transportation matters including the conflict between the rival bus cooperatives Dan and Egged, and the security problems involving Jerusalem buses.


The ministerial changes were introduced by Premier Menachem Begin. Twelve ministers voted in fever. The three National Religious Party ministers voted against the reshuffling. The NRP originally demanded an increase of their ministerial representation in the coalition to balance the Democratic Movement. That party, with only seven Knesset seats, has three ministers in the Cabinet including Deputy Premier Yigael Yadin. The NRP with three ministers has 12 Knesset seats.

Begin rejected the NRP demand for greater representation and similarly rejected its demand to reduce the number of Democratic ministers. Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon abstained.

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