Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Likud and Labor Make Show of Unity As Their Leaders Clash in New York

September 26, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Seeking to create a semblance of national unity, the Likud and Labor parties joined forces Monday to defeat a spate of no-confidence motions introduced in the Knesset by the smaller, opposition parties.

As Labor’s Vice Premier Shimon Peres and Likud’s Foreign Minister Moshe Arens traded barbs and pursued separate diplomatic agendas in the United States, the parties they represent vied at home to outdo each other in shows of loyalty to the government.

Although sharply divided over the peace process, neither Likud nor Labor was anxious to be perceived as the cause of the unity government’s collapse.

The issue splitting the two parties is Egypt’s 10-point proposal to advance the Israeli peace initiative. It calls, among other things, for preliminary negotiations between Israel and a delegation of Palestinian leaders, including some from outside the administered territories. Likud ha rejected the plan. Labor leaders have welcomed it.

The Knesset, normally in recess at this time for the Jewish holiday, is clamoring to debate the issue. Environmental Protection Minister Ronni Milo of Likud promised a full Knesset debate on the matter after the Cabinet had worked out the issues itself.

Such a debate would not occur for at least two weeks, after Peres and Arens return from the United states and report on their separate talks with President Bush and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.


The two major blocs appear to have heeded the words of Interior Minister Arye Deri of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, who warned Sunday that “the people want to see this unity government survive.”

“The Likud will not be the one to bring down this government,” Construction and Housing Minister David Levy of Likud pledged Monday.

He blasted anonymous “sources in the Prime Minister’s Office” whom he accused of issuing ominous threats to the press falsely implying that the government’s days were numbered.

Levy further pointed out that “if Labor decides to withdraw, that is not necessarily tantamount to the end of the government.”

This seemed to be a hint that Likud might try to stitch together a narrow government with the religious parties rather than seek immediate elections.

On the Labor side, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin also insisted Monday that the government need not fall, nor did he want to see it fall.

It was Rabin’s sudden visit to Cairo last week and subsequent approval of the Egyptian proposals that touched off the current coalition crisis.

Rabin maintains his position is consistent with government policy, since he continues to support the government’s peace initiative, which he formulated together with Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

Israel, he said, would bring its peace initiative to the negotiating table. Likewise, a Palestinian delegation, selected by Egypt after consultation with Israel, should be able to bring to the dialogue Egypt’s “10 points” as its opening position.

“Let us discuss this with reference solely to the issues involved, and not to party, political or coalitional ramifications,” the defense minister urged.

Meanwhile, Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, who heads his own “One Jerusalem” party, lent his support to the Mubarak plan, endorsing its call for the inclusion of East Jerusalem Arabs in the proposed Palestinian elections.

Recommended from JTA