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Labor-likud Talks Inch Forward

August 21, 1984
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Labor and Likud have made some headway towards a unity government, but they still have a long way to go.

At a meeting of their foreign policy working group last night in the Knesset, the two parties agreed on wording to express the proposed govemment’s policy on Lebanon. But they are still for apart on the two key substantive issues — settlements in the West Bank and terms for peace talks with Jordan. In addition, they have yet to tackle the toughest problem of all — the Premiership.

Political observers expect Labor Party leader Shimon Peres to meet with Premier Yitzhak Shamir on this before he reports back to President Chaim Herzog and requests an extension of the intitial 21-day period granted him by the President to try and form a government. That period ends next Sunday.


Meanwhile, in the Knesset today, Labor and Likud conducted a battle of wills over the office of Speaker, following legal opinions that Yosef Burg, who is the Interior Minister, cannot continue serving as temporary Speaker because there is a conflict of interest between the Executive and Legislative branches of the government. This issue was settled later in the day when Labor MK Abba Eban was elected temporary Speaker until a permanent Speaker is elected. (See separate story.)

Likud sees the Speakership as closely linked to the overall coalition-making process and is seeking, therefore, to delay the election of a permanent Speaker pending clarification of the coalition situation. The new Knesset met last week and then adjourned, unable to conduct business until a government is in stalled.


Herzog expressed “concern” today over the Knesset’s paralysis and its failure to elect its presidium — a Speaker and two deputies — and to begin its work. (There can be no parliamentary activity of any consequence until the presidium is elected.)

Herzog discussed this matter with Labor’s Moshe Shahal, chairman of the ad hoc Knesset arrangements committee, the body which normally arranges for the presidium election as soon as a new Knesset is sworn in and then ceases to exist.

Of the dozen-odd Knesset committees, only two have been formed (by Labor-Likud agreement endorsed by the plenary at the Knesset’s opening session). These are the finance committee and the foreign affairs and defense committee, but the compostion of the two committees is only temporary, pending the formation of a government.

The legal aid to the arrangements committee, Zvi Inbar, is pressing for the creation of other Knesset committees, too — even on a temporary basis — so as to enable regular parliamentary work to go forward.

In the Labor-likud discussions on foreign policy, Labor is still holding out for a “special majority” procedure in the proposed unity Cabinet to decide on the issue of the creation of new settlements. Likud insists on a simple majority. Labor fears that Tehiya might yet join a unity government, thus providing an automatic majority for any new settlement that anyone proposes.


On Jordan, Likud insists that the basic policy guideline document of the proposed government does not stray from close adherence to the Camp David peace plan. Labor wants Jordan invited to peace talks “without prior conditions, “arguing that Jordan was not a signatory to the Camp David plan and therefore cannot be required to negotiate on the basis of Camp David exclusively.

Deputy Premier David Levy, whom Labor participants in the talks with Likud branded last week as “obstreperous,” was carefully moderate at yesterday’s session,”Let’s forget about (King) Hussein, ” he said. “we’ll deal with that trouble when it happens. Let’s just get ahead with forming a government.”

But Labor participants were quick to point out that while for them peace talks with Hussein were a desirable goal, for Levy they were a “trouble.” Some Labor sources let it be known over the weekend that the Alignment was prepared to form a narrow-based coalition government if talks with Likud continued to be stalled.

Labor’s hopes of leading a unity government — or even a narrow-based coalition government — were rekindled tonight with the news that Ezer Weizman of Yahad and Yigael Hurvitz of the Courage to Cure the Economy let it be known that they would not support a Likud-led narrow government under any circumstances. Without them, Shamir has no chance of setting up a government.

Weizman and Hurvitz are understood to have been influenced in their decisions by the rapidly worsening economic situation for which they blame the Likud leadership. Weizman’s party has three Knesset seats, and Hurvitz’s has one.

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