Shamir builds a shaky coalition in Israel
Jerusalem — After six weeks of uncertainty following Menachem Begin's decision to resign as prime minister, Israel will almost certainly have a new government next week.
A vote of confidence is scheduled for Monday on a coalition put together by Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who was tapped on Sept. 21 to form a new government. His Cabinet, which required much horse-trading with coalition partners and dissatisfied Knesset (parliament) members, will be almost identical to that of Mr. Begin's.
But political leaders here are questioning whether a government dependent on so many querulous factions can cope with serious problems like Israel's sagging economy and its involvement in Lebanon. They also question whether such an alliance must ultimately give way to new elections before its term runs out in May 1985.
''When you depend on all these (coalition) splinters,'' complained Knesset Speaker Menachem Savidor, who agreed only on Wednesday to vote for a Shamir Cabinet. ''It reminds me of a tail wagging the (government) dog. I do not believe (the government) will be capable of solving the problems which are gripping our country at this moment.''
Mr. Shamir managed to pull together almost all of the members of the previous Likud coalition by a series of concessions to small party factions and dissident Knesset members. To woo the Tami Party, whose constituency is mostly North African Jews, many of them underprivileged, he cut back on some taxes. The taxes had been newly instituted by the government as part of a financial austerity program.
Likely to prove more controversial were promises made to the Agudat Yisrael party, representing ultra-orthodox Jews. Shamir reportedly promised to pass this winter all religious legislation specified in the previous coalition agreement. This includes such controversial measures as the ''Who is a Jew?'' bill specifying that conversions to Judaism must be done by Orthodox rabbis, and an archaeology bill which restricts digs in areas where human remains are found.
In addition, Shamir's Likud coalition promised more funds for Orthodox religious schools and undertook to try to relocate a planned swimming pool from a secular suburb of Jerusalem. The effort was made because the pool is considered offensive by Orthodox Jews who plan to move to an adjoining quarter. This last promise has roused the ire of Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, who sees it as a test case of whether Orthodox religious groups will be able to impose their will on secular neighborhoods.
Six members of the outgoing coalition had threatened to abstain unless Shamir made a ''sincere'' effort to persuade the opposition Labor Party to join a government of national unity.
But continuing efforts - begun since Shamir was tapped to form a government by Israeli President Chaim Herzog - could not overcome basic policy differences between the parties. These focused especially on Labor's demands that the government leave open the option of a territorial compromise with Jordan on the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The Labor Party is also demanding that any future approvals of all new Jewish settlements on the West Bank be subject to a two-thirds vote by the Cabinet.
By Wednesday, the six dissidents had decided the party gap could not be bridged.
Still uncertain is whether outgoing Prime Minister Begin, who has not been well, will attend the Knesset session dealing with the vote of confidence. However, Knesset member Aharon Abuhatzeira of Tami, a former minister who is serving a three-month jail sentence by day for mishandling charity funds and breach of trust, will keep his pledge to Knesset officials not to use his free time to come to vote.
Even without the votes of these two men, Shamir can muster 61 and probably 62 votes of the 120 Knesset members.