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News Analysis: New Israeli Government Committed to Making Peace, Not Merely Process

July 15, 1992
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

When Yitzhak Rabin gave the Knesset his new government’s policy blueprint this week, he pledged there would be no more talk about the “peace process” and that Israel would focus instead on “peacemaking.”

That perhaps best captures the fundamental difference between the Labor-led government that took office Monday and the Likud regime that was swept out of power by the June 23 elections.

As the new prime minister himself put it during his hard-fought election campaign, in Labor’s view, “not one centimeter” of progress toward peace has been achieved since Israel’s Likud government signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979.

Much has been said about Rabin’s tough stance on security-related issues. But the former army chief of staff and defense minister made it clear this week that from now on, the government would mount a continuous and intensive peacemaking effort, with the negotiators meeting for weeks on end, rather than for a few days once a month or less.

Even the most dovish members of the new government could find nothing in Rabin’s remarks to arouse latent suspicions about his true intentions on this issue.

Rabin stressed, time after time, in his opening address Monday and in his remarks closing the debate, that peacemaking and especially reaching an autonomy accord with the Palestinians would be the very top priority of the new government.

He also emphasized the pledge in the new government’s policy platform that nothing would be done to disturb the peace talks. That means that there will be no new settlement activity, other than in the Jerusalem area and on the “confrontation lines” along the Jordan River and on the Golan Heights.


With these goals firmly set forth, Rabin and his team are preparing now to receive U.S. Secretary of State James Baker in Jerusalem next week and to fly to the United States in early August for a series of crucial talks with President Bush at his vacation home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

The new government anticipates that an early dividend of these talks will be approval by the Bush administration of Israel’s longstanding request for billions of dollars in U.S.-guaranteed loans, to be used to help resettle immigrants.

Finally giving Israel the loan guarantees would not only reward the Jewish state for its change of policy on settlements, but would help Bush, fighting a tough battle for re-election, shore up his sagging relationship with the American Jewish community.

All that being said, the new government is more left-wing than Rabin had wanted.

The prime minister had hoped to have Labor flanked at the Cabinet table on both the right and left, But a series of errors and mishaps in the coalition negotiations left the right-wing Tsomet and the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism parties out of the government, at least for the time being.

As a result, Rabin’s desire of heading a coalition large enough that no one party could topple it remains unfulfilled for the moment.

With only a 62-seat majority in the Knesset, the 12-seat Meretz bloc holds Rabin in its thrall, while a secession by the six-seat Shas party would force the prime minister to rely on the two Arab parties to remain in power.


Rabin is still hoping that United Torah Judaism will join the coalition. But that is unlikely in the immediate future, given the uproar in the ultra-Orthodox community over Rabin’s decision to put the Education Ministry in the hands of Meretz leader Shulamit Aloni, who is regarded as hostile to the religious establishment.

In an attempt to put out that fire, Labor has installed a Shas politician to serve as Aloni’s deputy, with authority over the ministry’s religious education programs.

And analysts say there is little reason to expect change in the religious status quo under the new government. They say that any hope of challenging the Orthodox monopoly over marriage and divorce for Jews in Israel was buried the moment it became clear that Labor and Meretz did not have sufficient seats between them to form a government.

The only possible shift on religious issues will stem from the decision to create a panel under Rabin, in his capacity as defense minister, that will re-examine criteria for the deferment of yeshiva students’ army service.

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