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Early Elections in Israel Are an Almost Certain Prospect

March 20, 1984
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Early elections this summer became an almost certain prospect tonight when the Tami Party announced that it will introduce a bill for early elections in the Knesset.

The surprise announcement was made by Tami leader Aharon Abu Hatzeira who indicated disillusionment with the Likud-led coalition government of which his small but pivotal party is a member. The opposition Labor Alignment has already introduced an early elections bill which comes up for debate in the Knesset on Thursday.

Political observers said tonight that with Tami’s support and that of such Likud Liberals as Yitzhak Berman and Dror Zeigerman, former Finance Minister Yigal Hurwitz and independent MK Mordechai Ben Porat, the measure could garner the 60-plus votes necessary for adoption. The bill calls for disolving the Knesset and setting a date for elections.


Premier Yitzhak Shamir declared tonight that he opposed early elections because of the effects an election campaign could have on the country’s economy which is in a parlcus state. Shamir was to meet with Abu Hatzeira later tonight but the Tami leader is not expected to change his mind. Shamir said that if there are early elections, Likud would seek to renew its mandate from the electorate and expressed confidence that it would succeed. Likud’s mandate expires in 1985.

Labor Party chairman Shimon Peres said, after Tami’s announcement, “the campaign begins tonight. The shorter it is, the better for the country.” Peres said he hoped elections could be held in two months. The law provides for a minimum of 100 days between disolution of the Knesset and election day. But many MKs believe that law should be amended and it may well be if the Knesset adopts the early elections bill.

Likud MK Ronnie Milo conceded tonight that his party was divided over early elections. Some members think they are desirable, he said. But he was not sure they would materialize. He noted that Shamir was scheduled to meet with Abu Hatzeira later tonight, apparently to try to persuade him to reconsider. But most observers believe that the Tami man will not be persuaded.


In his television announcement, Abu Hatzeira cited the worsening economy, the 12 percent rise in inflation last month and an ongoing row in the police department over allegations that a ranking officer unlawfully released information about suspects before their formal arraignment. He said these and other developments pointed to the “poor functioning” of the Likud government, which is the reason for Tami’s “initiative.”

The party, which has three Knesset seats, represents a poor, largely Sephardic constituency.


When Peres was asked if the election campaign would aggravate the ongoing struggle between himself and former Premier Yitzhak Rabin for leadership of the Labor Party, he replied that he hoped for agreement and unity in Labor ranks. “But if onyone wants a leadership contest there will be a contest,” he added.

Peres said that as soon as the Knesset opts for early elections he will renew his call to former President Yitzhak Navon to return to active duty in the Labor Party. Navon, who is presently visiting Argentina, has not indicated whether he is ready to return to politics since he left the non-political office of President last year. Some opposition elements regard Navon as a potential candidate for Prime Minister.

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