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March 23, 1990 - Image 34

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-03-23

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

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Foreign policy and defense concern the Orthodox parties.

Politics, Not Religion,
Is Orthodox Priority

ZE'EV CHAFETS

Israel Correspondent

T

his week, Israeli
politics have been
dominated by the
black hats — the religious
parties that helped bring
down the national unity
government of Prime Min-
ister Yitzhak Shamir and
that are now being assidu-
ously courted by the major
political factions.
As they did after the 1988
Knesset election, these par-
ties —Agudat Yisrael, Shas
and Degal Hatorah — hold
the balance of political
power, and may well deter-
mine who will form the next
ruling coalition.
The images in the papers
and on television are famil-
iar: gray-bearded rabbis re-
ceiving deputations of
secular Israeli politicos, each
with a black silk yarmulke
firmly in place. But this time
there is a difference.
Unlike past coalition
negotiations, the Orthodox
parties have talked more
about foreign policy and
defense than about their
usual agenda of religious
legislation. Most notably ab-
sent has been any demand to
bring about a change in the
Law of Return, an issue
known in Israeli parliamen-
tary shorthand as the Who Is
A Jew question.
It was a combination of

foreign policy dovishness
and personal pique that led
the religious parties to vote
for the no- confidence motion
against Shamir. Agudat
Yisrael was furious with the
prime minister for breaking
written commitments made
during the 1988 government
negotiations. Shas, whose
abstention on the no-con-
fidence vote gave the Labor
Party its margin of victory,
wanted Shamir to say yes to
Secretary of State James
Baker's current initiative
regarding proposed talks
with Egyptian and Palestin-
ian representatives.
Together, Shas and Agudat
Yisrael, by refusing to sup-
port the government, have
catapulted Israel into its
present parlimentary crisis.
Such crises come and go in
Israel, but this one could
change the country's polit-
ical landscape. In voting
against the government, and
asking President Herzog to
call upon Shimon Peres to
form the next government,
Agudat Yisrael has ended its
13-year partnership with the
Likud.

Privately, Aguda politi-
cians have hinted that they
are opposed to Shamir, not
his party, and would be
prepared to enter a coalition
with the Likud under diff-
erent leadership. But the
Likud does not seem inclined
to replace Shamir; and this

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

35

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