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Speculation Renewed That Navon’s Move Not to Seek a Second Term Might Spark Call for Early Elections

February 2, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

President Yitzhak Navon’s announcement yesterday that he will not seek a second term has renewed speculation that early elections may be called for.

Political pundits reason that Likud may want to take advantage of Premier Menachem Begin’s current popularity with the electorate and the fact that Navon, also an extremely popular public figure, intends to stay out of politics, at least for the time being. If elections are held, possibly next November, the Labor Party will not have had time to resolve the internal power struggle between Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin by inviting Navon to run for Premier the political observers say.

But Likud’s coalition partner, the National Religious Party, poses an obstacle to early elections. The NRP lost half its Knesset mandates in the last elections and is not anxious to go to the polls this year, especially since it too is riven by internal strife. Without the NRP, the Likud coalition would lose its Knesset majority.

Likud sources have expressed hope that if Interior Minister Yosef Burg, the NRP’s veteran leader, is elected President to succeed Navon, he would support early elections. But Burg’s resignation would strengthen the moderate factions in the NRP headed by Education Minister Zevulun Hammer and Deputy Foreign Minister Yehuda Ben-Meir.

This could spell trouble for the hard-line policies on the West Bank pursued by Likud. Hammer has frequently indicated he would like to extricate the NRP from its association with the Gush Emunim extremists and return to the middle-of-the-road policies that characterized the party before the Six-Day War.

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