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Special Interview the Labor-likud Coalition Has a ‘reasonable Chance’ to Survive

August 16, 1985
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

MK Dan Meridor of Likud, who is a close associate of Foreign Minister and Deputy Premier Yitzhak Shamir, says he believes that there is a “reasonable chance” that the Labor-Likud coalition government will survive its full term and that Shamir will replace Shimon Peres as Premier, as agreed, in October 1986.

“I am not a prophet but I believe that the coalition government will complete its full term despite the differences between Labor and Likud,” Meridor, who is a member of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, said in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency here.

“There are some members of the Labor Party who are pressuring Peres to dissolve the government and not let Shamir assume the Premiership as the ‘rotation agreement’ (between Labor and Likud) stipulates,” Meridor asserted.

“But I probably have more moral faith in Peres than those members of the Labor Party. I do not believe that Peres will play a trick and break the unity government just to stop Shamir from being the Premier. We agreed to a national unity government only because it had the ‘rotation agreement’ in it.”


The 38-year-old Meridor, who was the Cabinet Secretary from 1982 to 1984 while the Likud was in power, said there are no serious differences at present between Labor and Likud to warrant the dissolution of the coalition and holding new elections.

“Look,” Meridor said, “had King Hussein come forward and said that he agrees to a territorial compromise with Israel, then, maybe, there would be reason to dissolve the coalition government. But the differences between Labor and Likud all can be dealt with according to the agreed guidelines of the coalition government, which were the basis for the unity government.”

Meridor said that the disagreement between Labor and Likud as to how to solve the dispute with Egypt over Taba, the tiny strip of beachfront south of Eilat, is a marginal one. “You do not dissolve a government on such an issue. This is a technical issue–whether to go to arbitration or reach a compromise. Sooner or later, I believe, a solution will be found,” he said.

As to the issue of Judaea and Samaria, Meridor said that the guidelines of the coalition government clearly show that Labor has agreed to continue to build new settlements in the territories, to adhere to the Camp David Agreements, and to oppose the creation of a Palestinian state.

Therefore, Meridor pointed out, all the major aspects of Israel’s foreign policy, over which Labor and Likud sometimes have sharply different approaches, were dealt with before the coalition was formed and cannot now serve as a cause for not completing the scheduled term of the government.

Asked about the possibility that the power struggle among top Herut leaders, such as Shamir, Ariel Sharon and David Levy, might influence the future of the coalition government, Meridor stressed that Shamir is the leader of Herut who will replace Peres as Premier in October next year.

“The question of Herut’s leadership is clearly solved until 1988, if not beyond that. Shamir was elected by the Party (Herut) to be the candidate for Premier twice. There are political arguments in Herut,” Meridor continued, “but I don’t think they can have an impact on the future of the coalition government.”


Meridor, who was in New York after attending the conference of the Coalition for Alternatives in Jewish Education in Chicago this week, was asked about reports that Rabbi Meir Kahane’s popularity in Israel is growing steadily and that the Kach Party which he heads might increase its power at the expense of Herut and other rightwing parties.

“Kahane is the opposite of Herut,” Meridor responded somewhat passionately. “He is a man with dangerous, immoral and un-Jewish ideas that revolt me and are against all the basic ideals I was brought up on. In order to fight this dangerous phenomenon we recently passed a bill in the Knesset that will out-law racist lists from participating in the election. Kahane advocates and incites racism ….” Continuing, Meridor said:

There is some exaggeration on the part of the media regarding Kahane’s growing power. When Jews are murdered by Arab terrorists there is a surge of anger and growing emotions, and some people in the margin of society tend to support Kahane.

“But when people calm down they see that Kahane is not the answer, because if you develop an attitude that all the Arabs are terrorists and they have to be ousted (from Israel) that in itself can turn a great deal of Arabs into terrorists. In a way, the stronger Kahane gets — the stronger the PLO gets. Kahane claims that Jews and Arabs cannot live together in a Jewish state — this is exactly what the PLO wants to prove.

“But we, the Zionists, say that Arabs and Jews can indeed coexist in a Jewish state. It is difficult. But we have to learn together how to do it. We Jews cannot make generalizations (about the Arabs) as Kahane does, especially because we were the victims of generalizations throughout our history.”


Meridor said that during his current visit here, as well as in previous ones, he realized that the PLO is making some inroads in the United States. “I found the beginning of a process of legitimization of the PLO among some policy-makers in the U.S.,” Meridor warned.

“It is still unofficial and is not pronounced clearly, but there is the danger that the PLO will enter the U.S. through the back door. We must make it clear in America that peace in the Mideast cannot be achieved through dealing with the PLO nor through dealing with a joint Jordan-PLO delegation.”

Meridor is one of the few people in Israel who has been in close, constant contact with former Premier Menachem Begin, who stepped down in October, 1983. He said that he meets with Begin every Friday and discusses with him various issues concerning the situation in Herut and in the country.

“I last saw him at his 72nd birthday party in his home in Jerusalem last Saturday. He feels fine and is interested in everything that happens in the country,” Meridor said.

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