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Navon Says He Will Invite Begin to Form a New Government

July 15, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

President Yitzhak Navon said today that he will invite Premier Menachem Begin to try to form a new government. He said he would officially charge Begin with the task at a meeting tomorrow morning because he has concluded that the Likud leader is in the best position to form a coalition Cabinet commanding a majority of 61 seats in the next Knesset.

Navon told Israel Radio that it probably would be better if a larger majority could be assured. He was non-committal when asked if he personally would have favored a broad-based national unity government. He said a broader government would be best but “the other partner, the Labor Alignment” has signified that it would not serve in such a regime under Begin.

Navon announced his decision to call on Begin almost immediately after concluding consultations with all parties represented in the new Knesset. He met yesterday with delegations from Likud, Labor, the National Religious Party and the Aguda Israel and completed his talks today with the other parties.


In the meantime, it appears that the Aguda would not demand the “Who is a Jew” amendment to the Law of Return as a condition for joining the new Begin government. Begin made it clear yesterday that he would not force his Likud faction to vote for the amendment. He said if the Aguda insisted on such an undertaking, “I will tell them straight out: No, I cannot give it.”

It was learned that the Communist Party, which won four Knesset seats, had urged Navon to choose a Prime Minister who would work for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The opposite extreme was pressed by Geula Cohen’s ultra-nationalist Tehiya faction, which won three Knesset seats. It wants Israel to renegotiate the peace treaty with Egypt so as to end further withdrawals from Sinai.

Aharon Abu Hatzeira’s Tami faction, with three seats, indicated to Navon that it preferred a government headed by Begin, while Moshe Dayan’s two-seat Telem party leaned toward Labor because its policy on the autonomy negotiations is closer to Dayan’s. Representatives of Shinui (Change) and the Civil Rights Movement preferred Labor to Likud but were resigned to the fact that Navon would select the party with the largest representation in the Knesset. Likud has 48 seats to 47 for the Labor Alignment.

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