Israeli Dispute Perils Change in Leadership

Associated Press

Caretaker Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir met in emergency session for 45 minutes today but failed to defuse a last-minute dispute over political appointees that threatens their planned job swap.

It was not clear when the long-planned job rotation could take place.

"No change," the taciturn Shamir told reporters as he emerged from the prime minister's office. He declined further comment.

"Nothing has been achieved," said Labor's secretary-general, Uzi Bar-Am.

The transfer of power was planned for today, but was delayed by squabbling between their two rival political parties, Peres' left-leaning Labor Party and Shamir's right-wing Likud bloc.

Under a power-sharing pact, Shamir is to become head of government and Peres the foreign minister.

A major obstacle to the power transfer is Likud's desire to restore former Justice Minister Yitzhak Modai to the Cabinet, a move Labor opposes. Peres ousted Modai for criticizing the Labor-led government.

Likud also wants to name ministers to deal with Soviet Jewish immigration, Israeli Arabs and Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Labor says the new appointees could rob Labor ministers of some power.

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