Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Adar 5761 - March 7, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Government to be Installed Before Purim
by M. Plaut

About a month after he was elected but before his self- imposed deadline of Purim, Ariel Sharon is expected to present his government on Wednesday. According to Knesset regulations, the Likud must submit the coalition agreements it has signed to the Knesset clerk 24 hours before the vote, which Sharon did on Tuesday afternoon.

Sharon starts out with a government comparable to that of outgoing prime minister Ehud Barak. With a master politician like Sharon in control, the government has a reasonable chance of lasting out its full term of two and a half years. Circumstances are such, at least for now, to keep the different parties together since Israel clearly faces a crisis that must be dealt with, and the Palestinians' recourse to extensive violence has made ideological differences in Israel of minimal importance. No one will argue that the violence must stop, and no one thinks that there is any simple way to do this, after all the efforts invested by Ehud Barak and his friends.

As of Tuesday morning, Sharon is assured of 71 votes out of the 120-member Knesset: Labor (23), Likud (19), Shas (17), Yisrael Beiteinu (4), Yisrael B'Aliya (4), National Union (3), MK Dalia Rabin-Pelosof (1).

In addition, the following are not opposition parties. Some may soon join the government, others may give it varying degrees of support from outside: UTJ (5), NRP (5), Center Party (5, in addition to Rabin-Pelosof), Gesher (3).

The National Religious Party and David Levy's Gesher will likely end up outside the government after failing to reach an agreement with the Likud.

Yisrael B'Aliya will receive the Construction and Housing portfolio, a deputy premiership, and the chairmanship of the Ministerial Committee on Diaspora, Immigration, and Absorption. Yuli Edelstein will run the Immigration Absorption Ministry as a deputy minister to Sharon, who will keep the portfolio.

Gesher leader David Levy also threatened not to support the government from the outside after Sharon told him he did not have anything to offer him other than a ministry without portfolio.

Ze'evi reportedly accepted the Tourism portfolio after Sharon agreed to accept his request to add responsibility for the Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, Antiquities Authority, and the Green Patrol to it.

The Likud is still in negotiations with United Torah Judaism and the Center Party. Coalition negotiators met with Center leader Dan Meridor yesterday, but declined his request for the Justice portfolio.

"Meridor would make an excellent justice minister, he also would make an excellent foreign minister, but he is not a Likud MK and the party has to continue to exist," Sharon told Channel 1.

Sharon said the Likud would keep the Finance, Education, Justice, Internal Security, Communications, and Environment portfolios, as well as two ministries without portfolio.

Center Party MK Roni Milo has been offered a ministry with responsibility for the government's public relations efforts, especially abroad, despite opposition from Peres since that responsibility usually falls to the Foreign Ministry.

This government will have the most ministers of any Israeli government ever. Aside from the expense that each additional minister entails, there are other steps that need to be taken. For example, in the Knesset plenum, there is a designated table at which the government ministers sit. That table now consists of two sections, an inner and outer horseshoe, in order to fit all 28 ministers at the government bench. The new arrangement has cost the government a cool NIS 40,000.


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