Yitzhak Rabin, the new leader of the Labor Party, is expected to take charge personally of the tough coalition negotiations aimed at forming a new government–a task that will be formally assigned to him tomorrow by President Ephraim Katzir. Coalition talks are expected to begin next week and Rabin has already made it clear that he will keep them as brief as possible.
Under law, he has 21 days in which to form a government, after which he must report success or failure to the President. Should he fail, he may request an additional 21-day extension. But Rabin has said that should he be unable to form a Labor-led coalition with the National Religious Party and the Independent Liberal Party within the allotted time, he would call for new elections. The outgoing care-taker government, headed by Mrs. Golda Meir, was formed after prolonged negotiations that stretched from Jan. to March and were conducted mainly by, Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir, not Mrs. Meir. Katzir has warned that he would not tolerate such a drawn out process again.
Should Rabin fail to form a government, he would head the Labor Alignment list in the next elections. But some political observers are warning already that the old guard of the Labor Party which he defeated in the Central Committee elections Monday night might use the interim until new elections to undermine Rabin’s position. That, however, is considered far-fetched since any resurgence of the old leadership would have to be led by Pinhas Sapir who refused the Premiership and was Rabin’s strongest supporter.
WELL AWARE OF PENDING DIFFICULTIES
Rabin, who at 52 would be Israel’s youngest Prime Minister and the first to be born in the country, is believed to be well aware of the booby traps in his own party and the difficulties of negotiations with the other parties.
He has kept his own counsel so far on whether he might consider a national unity government should his coalition efforts fail–something Mrs. Meir had ruled out in advance. His first step, however, will be to try to revive the old Labor-NRP-ILP partnership. Both the NRP and ILP are taking very tough negotiating positions in public but are expected to adopt more flexible attitudes when the time comes to make a final decision. The NRP in particular has no reason to be hopeful in the event of new elections.
Talk has been revived of a Labor coalition with the ILP and Mrs. Shulamit Aloni’s left of center Civil Rights Movement as an alternative to a coalition with the NRP. But that would mean a government with only 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset, too narrow a base to survive. CRM leaders have said that they would not join such a coalition. The party, which won three Knesset seats in the last elections, is advocating new elections.
Whatever scenario develops, most observers concede that major changes will occur once Rabin takes power. Foreign Minister Abba Eban, who supported the candidacy of Peres, is considered unlikely to remain in office. Deputy Premier Yigal Allon is also expected to find it hard to work under Rabin who was once his second in command in Palmach. Few observers doubt that Defense Minister Moshe Dayan will refuse to join a new Cabinet, even if asked to, though some sources believe he may be offered a new post such as minister in charge of peace talks.
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.