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January 05, 1990 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-01-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

NEWS 11.

Shamir Reaps Gains
Over Weizman Deal

DAVID LANDAU

Special to The Jewish News

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rime Minister Yit-
zhak Shamir appears
to have scored a
masterly political coup by
the 11th-hour reversal of his
decision to fire Ezer Weiz-
man from the Cabinet, for
alleged contacts with the
Palestine Liberation
Organization.
Under a deal worked Out
between Shamir's Likud
bloc and the Labor Party,
Weizman will retain
Cabinet rank as minister of
science and development, a
non-influential portfolio.
But the dovish Laborite had
to resign from the
prestigious, policy-making
Inner Cabinet of 12 senior
ministers.
The arrangement allows
Shamir to preserve the unity
coalition government, while
severely embarrassing his
politically weakened Labor
partners, political pundits
say.
It also strengthens
Shamir's own position
against hard-line critics in
Likud and sends a clear
message abroad that Israel
will not relent in its policy of
no talks with the PLO, polit-
ical observers say.
In addition, Shamir suc-
ceeded in personally
humiliating Weizman, one
of the most outspoken critics
of the premier's policy
toward the Palestinians
The drama began when, at
the end of the weekly
Cabinet session, Shamir
suddenly informed Weizman
he was dismissed because of
his contacts with the PLO.
Shamir did not detail his
charges and Weizman, who
has publicly advocated talks
with the PLO, made only a
vague denial.
But the stage was set for a
government crisis, since the
national unity coalition
agreement stipulates that
the prime minister cannot
oust a Labor minister
without the agreement of
the vice premier, Labor Par-
ty leader Shimon Peres.
But while Peres waxed in-
dignant at the Shamir move
and Labor doves rallied for
Weizman, it was clear that
most Labor ministers would
not give up their portfolios
for their hapless colleague.
Neither Labor nor Likud is
eager for new elections at
this time, and neither party
seems capable of putting

together a narrow substitute
coalition, in partnership
with the small religious par-
ties that always hold the
balance of power.
According to law, a deci-
sion by the prime minister
takes effect 48 hours after it
is announced. The eventual
Likud-Labor compromise
was achieved at just an hour
before the deadline.
Weizman told reporters
the arrangement was work-
ed out in advance of his
meeting with Shamir, which
he described as "pleasant."
He said he accepted the
demotion, because he felt
obligated to the Labor Party
and those members who
support him He credited his
decision for enabling the
unity government to stay in
office.
Labor doves seemed disap-
pointed that Weizman did
not put up more of a fight.
And the party's hawks
would have preferred Labor
to be rid of him.
Some political observers
are convinced Labor would
sooner have ditched Weiz-
man than let the govern-
ment fall.
Weizman announced he
would be traveling to the
Soviet Union this week, as
planned before the crisis
broke. He was to leave for
Vienna last week.
His impending' visit to
Moscow reportedly aroused
Shamir to take action
against him. The prime min-
ister is said to have feared
that Weizman. would meet or
communicate with a PLO
figure there and that the
Soviet media would break
the story, to Israel's em-
barrassment.
Weizman has flatly denied
such a meeting was con-
templated.
Some Likud members are
demanding criminal action
against the Labor minister,
inasmuch as contact with
the PLO is a violation of the
law as well as of government
policy.
But Shamir's aides appear
to be satisfied with the polit-
ical gains that the premier
has reaped from the
weekend crisis. Within
Likud, Shamir succeeded in
reasserting his authority
and leadership, a setback for
his rivals in the party,
notably Ariel Sharon, David
Levy and Yitzhak Moda'i.
It is more clear than ever
that next time Likud goes to
the polls, its list will be
headed by Shamir, 0

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