Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

9 Tammuz 5760 - July 12, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Sponsored by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Produced and housed by

NRP, Yisrael Ba'aliya and Shas Quit the Government

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Barak set out for the summit with US President Bill Clinton and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat with a dramatically smaller coalition than he had just 24 hours earlier. The withdrawal of NRP, Yisrael Ba'aliya and Shas will take the Barak government down to 13 cabinet ministers from 22 just a few weeks ago and it reduces Barak's Knesset supporters from 68 MKs to 42.

Shas announced it was withdrawing from the coalition because Barak was unwilling to confide in its leadership about the red lines that will guide him at the summit. At a meeting, Barak merely went over the guidelines he has repeatedly declared.

When Prime Minister Ehud Barak leaves on Tuesday for Camp David, half the cabinet travels with him. He has held four cabinet portfolios: defense (since the government's formation), and education, agriculture, and industry and trade, which he acquired when the Meretz party left the government last month. Now he also hold the positions of the Cabinet Ministers of the other three parties that resigned: interior, health, national infrastructure, labor and social affairs, and religious affairs. He also became acting housing minister with the NRP's resignation. Altogether he now holds ten cabinet posts.

Barak was shocked by Shas's decision, as the party had earlier stated that it would wait to see what kind of agreement, if any, Barak would bring back.

Eli Yishai, leader of Shas, argued that he would actually be strengthening Barak by quitting the coalition, because now Barak "can go to the summit and tell Clinton, `I have no coalition, and I have no government, and I don't have a majority among the people. I must bring a good agreement to the people.' "

Barak also met with Sharansky, who nevertheless went ahead with submitting his letter of resignation. Responding to Barak's claim that his red lines are well known, he said that the Barak guidelines, as he has been presenting them to the public, are "broad enough to still allow him to withdraw from 90 percent of the Jordan Valley, the overwhelming majority of Judea and Samaria, and to make concessions on Jerusalem."

After submitting his letter of resignation, Sharansky moved to a tent near the Prime Minister's Office, holding meetings for many hours with supporters.

The third rebellion of the day took place at a meeting of the NRP central committee in Tel Aviv.

The party announced in a statement afterward that the committee had "decided unanimously to pull the NRP out of the cabinet and the coalition," and instructed Housing Minister Yitzhak Levy, Deputy Education Minister Shaul Yahalom, and Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Yigal Bibi to submit their letters of resignation to Barak.

Foreign Minister David Levy also announced that he would not be joining Barak at Camp David though he did not leave the government.

Levy refused to say what was behind his decision, but in recent weeks he has become increasingly critical of Barak's negotiating tactics, saying that Israel has taken to "offering the maximum" and getting nothing but the "bare minimum" in return. He was also critical of the fact that a number of ministers, and in particular Ben-Ami, are participating in high-level talks and generally acting like foreign ministers.

Barak said that Levy is still a true partner whom he "highly respects" and that, although he had tried to convince Levy to attend the summit, he respected his decision to stay home.

The cabinet agreed to authorize Barak to release Palestinian security prisoners. It was made clear, however, that if this is done, it will be as a "goodwill gesture" during the summit and not beforehand.

The umbrella group for organizations in Israel which represent Holocaust survivors asked the government to bring up the issue of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism during the Camp David Summit with the Palestinians.

The US, meanwhile, is confident that, despite his coalition chaos, Barak has enough popular support to reach a peace accord with the Palestinians, special Middle East envoy Dennis Ross said.

Ross said the US is hoping to seal a deal by July 19, the day President Bill Clinton flies to Japan for the G-8 economic summit.

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.