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November 29, 1985 - Image 29

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-11-29

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Friday, November 29, 1985


The Midterm

Due to exchange jobs next
October, Prime Minister Peres and
Foreign Minister Shamir are
engaged in a courtly dance of
political plotting.

Special To The Jewish News

a narrow coalition without
the Likud, however, he would
be back to Square One.
One doesn't need to look at
the results of recent public

opinion polls to know that
Prime Minister Peres is tre-
mendously popular these
days. It's obvious in the af-
fection, the respect and the

World Wide Photo

Will they or won't they?
With Prime Minister Shi-
mon Peres and Foreign Min-
ister Yitzhak Shamir schedul-
ed to exchange jobs in less
than a year under the terms
of their National Unity Gov-
ernment agreement, a very
serious game of politics will
play itself out in the coming
The proposed exchange will
obviously not constitute a
mere political musical chairs,
since the two men and their
respective parties are at log-
gerheads on certain key is-
sues. If Shamir becomes
Prime Minister, he is almost
certain to do everything in
his power to reverse direc-
tions taken by the Peres gov-
ernment, specifically with re-
gard to negotiations with Is-
rael's neighboring countries
and the future of the admin-
istered territories on the
West Bank. As Foreign Min-
ister, he has already done
this, but his power to change
events has been limited be-
cause of his unwillingness to
go so far as to bring down the
government and thus ruin his
chances of becoming Prime
Minister next October.
Prime Minister Peres, as a
man of honor, must go along
with the agreement. His best
way out would be to have the
present government fall —
through no obvious fault of
his — and render the agree-
ment null and void.
If this were to happen,
Peres would be given the first
opportunity by President
Chaim Herzog to form a new
government. Unless he can
muster enough changed
votes in the Knesset to form

In better times Peres and Shamir toast each other and their new coalition.

applause he is accorded on all
sides, even from some of
those who pelted him with
soft tomatoes only last year

during the election cam-
paign. Why then is he report-

edly- loath at this time to go
into early elections — par-
ticularly if the reason for the
fall would not be seen in the
public view as a cynical be-
trayal of his coalition pledge
to step down at the end of
two years?
For one thing, Peres feels
that he is moving ahead,
albeit slowly, on both the
economic and political fronts;
he does not want to digress
into a disruptive and costly
election campaign before he
can show concrete results.
On the economic front, in-
creased unemployment and
personal difficulties on the
grass roots level are recogniz-
ed as being necessary before
the economy can take an up-
turn. These negative mani-
festations are not likely to
enhance the election chances
of the party seen in the public
eye as "in power," however.
Furthermore, King Hus-
sein of Jordan seems to be on
the verge of a commitment
toward direct negotiations.
Unless he takes a clear and
unequivocal stand, however,
the Israeli public may be
vulnerable to election pro-

paganda that will again ac-
cuse the Labor Party of being
ready to "give away" ter-
ritory. King Hussein knows
as well as anyone else that
time is running out for the
possibility of negotiations; if
he's ever going to move, it
must be soon.
cumstances, there is always
the possibility that Peres
may find himself unable to
translate the public's ap-
proval of his style and abili-
ty as Prime Minister into a
decisive victory for his party
at the polls. He is likeable and
effective, even statesmanlike,
but he is not charismatic. The
wild adulation of a Menach-
em Begin that carried his fol-
lowers along into the Likud
camp will never be the lot of
Shimon Peres.
If Peres has reason to want
to prolong the Unity Govern-
ment, at least until shortly
before switchover time,
Foreign Minister Shamir has
even more reason to hope
that it lasts until the next
regularly scheduled election
in 1986. It is his only hope of
serving as Prime Minister
again. His popularity, accor-
ding to all the polls, has fallen


Many observers believed
that the political altercation
two weeks ago between Gen.
Ariel Sharon and Prime
Minister Shimon Peres would
be used by Peres to orches-
trate new elections. Obser-
vers saw Peres dismissing
Sharon for insubordination
because of his public criticism
of Peres' peace overtures to
Jordan's King Hussein.
Foreign Minister Shamir had
threatened to bolt the
cabinet, along with his fellow
Likud colleagues, if Sharon
was let go. This in turn would
force Peres to try to form a
coalition of at least 61 Knes-
set seats without Likud or
call for new elections — a
move many say he had been
seeking for weeks.
This particular scenario,
and the immediate political
crisis, ended when Sharon
publicly apologized to Peres.


to an unprecedented low; he
is beset by challenges to his
leadership and power strug-
gles within his Likud faction.
The National Unity agree-
ment signed last year is now
the only factor keeping Sha-
mir in the running as head of
his party and Prime Minister-
designate to succeed Peres
next October. The agreement
designated Shimon Peres to
serve as Prime Minister for
two years, with Yitzhak
Shamir serving as Foreign
Minister and Deputy Prime
Minister; for the next two
years, the roles of the two
men were to be reversed. The
agreement did not say that
the leaders of the parties are
to serve; it specified these
two men by name.
Given Shamir's lackluster
personality and the strong
personalities of Ariel Sharon,
David Levy and Moshe
Arens baying at his heels in
competition for leadership of
the Likud party, it is certain
that nullification of the coali-
tion agreement at this time
would also mark the end of
Shamir's position as party
head and its candidate for
Prime Minister under present


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