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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       June 18, 1996 V4, #108
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Temple Mount Prayer in Gov't Guidelines

The fundamental guidelines of the new government contain a clause concerning Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. It reads, "The government will work towards arranging the prayer of Jews according to Halacha in all of the holy sites." Arutz-7's correspondent reports the original draft specifically mentioned the Temple Mount, but at the last second the Likud heads hesitated and decided upon a more general formulation.

Netanyahu Presents Cabinet This Morning

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to present his Cabinet and policies for a vote of confidence in parliament at 10 a.m. EDT. Even as Netanyahu concluded negotiations with coalition partners Monday, he was still facing serious disputes about cabinet portfolios within his own party.

The leader of the new immigrant party, Natan Sharansky, told Israeli television, "We're inside." The leader of one of the parties representing religious Jews said, "We have an arrangement."

With those few words, it became clear Monday that the prime minister-elect had concluded negotiations on Cabinet posts and policy statements and had formed a six-party coalition which would win a vote of confidence today.

But within his own Likud Party, conflict raged. Senior party members, including former Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, complained that the best Cabinet jobs had gone to the coalition partners and that they were left with insulting offers to head minor ministries. To placate them, Netanyahu was facing the prospect of withdrawing offers of Cabinet posts he reportedly made to a top attorney and the head of the Israeli Central Bank, as part of his desire to create a government of experts. He also had fewer Cabinet positions left to fill than he had senior colleagues and personal loyalists to satisfy.

14th Knesset Convenes in Jerusalem

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's new parliament convened for the first time Monday. Large blocs representing religious Jews and new immigrants joined right-wing politicians to form a more conservative legislative body than Israel has had in recent years.

Israeli President Ezer Weizman pounded the gavel and called Israel's 14th parliament to order. He thanked the outgoing government for its work, and welcomed the new government. But the government Benjamin Netanyahu was elected to lead will not be ready to take office until today.

Outgoing Prime Minister Shimon Peres delivered a farewell speech, in which he said peace is within Israel's grasp and can be made a reality. The 73-year-old Peres was given the task of reading the oath of office on behalf of all the parliament members.

Then, the parliament secretary read the names of all 120 members, and each answered "I promise."

When the new government is formed today, he will become leader of the opposition. Peres told the new parliament, with its majority of right-wing legislators, peace is within their grasp, and he urged them to make it a reality.

The prime minister also spoke of his 49-years of service. It dates back to before Israeli statehood -- during which, he said, he has seen the dreams of the country's founding fathers become pale and small compared to the reality of modern Israel.

Peres spoke of the country's political, economic, cultural, and social progress. He said today's Israelis have the chance to fulfill the last remaining goal of Zionism -- peaceful coexistence with their neighbors.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner has said he will reveal his plans after the new government takes office. He could serve as opposition leader, or he could give that task to someone else. He could retire from the parliament completely. Peres has declined to give any hints, other than to say he will continue to work for peace wherever he is.

Among those taking the oath for the first time was the former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, who leads a new party made up mainly of recent immigrants. Just minutes before the parliament meeting, Sharansky announced that his party had agreed to join Netanyahu's coalition, bringing it seven votes in parliament and putting him over the required majority of 61.

The smallest of the three parties representing religious Jews also joined at the last minute, giving Israelis a new government expected to lead the country in a more conservative direction -- with more privatization of the economy, more influence on Israeli society by religious Jews and a slower, less-compromising approach in the Middle East peace process.

Netanyahu took the oath as a parliament member for only the second time. He will present his government program today, along with the members of his Cabinet. Policy drafts made public in recent days include clauses calling for the continuation of the peace process, but also taking a tough stance on such issues as the Golan Heights, Jerusalem, Palestinian statehood and Israeli settlements in occupied territory.

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