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Netanyahu-levy Feud Persists over Control of Foreign Policy

August 8, 1996
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister David Levy are at odds again.

The two long-standing political rivals, who put aside their differences long enough to win Israel’s May 29 elections, are now feuding over who will steer the country’s foreign policy.

Foreign Ministry officials made the feud public this week, telling the Israeli media that Netanyahu has been leaving Levy out of top-level diplomatic contacts and excluding him from foreign policy matters.

The latest insult came earlier this week, the officials said, when Netanyahu made his first visit to Jordan as prime minister without taking Levy or any other Foreign Ministry staff along.

A bristling Levy canceled his weekly meeting with the prime minister and accused him of breaking promises, they said.

The feud has underscored the deep rifts in the Likud leader’s government, which includes hawks, relative moderates and representatives of Israel’s fervently Orthodox community.

The first sign since the elections of tension in the Netanyahu-Levy relationship came in June, when Levy embarrassed Netanyahu before a battery of television cameras with the threat that he would leave the government if Netanyahu did not give Likud hard-liner Ariel Sharon a Cabinet position.

Sharon was responsible for bringing Levy into a pre-election alliance that by most accounts was crucial to Netanyahu’s victory in May.

Netanyahu soon gave in to the demand, but observers said at the time that the prime minister had a long memory and would one day settle scores with his foreign minister.

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