Israel At the Brink

Once more, a coalition crisis

From the moment of its formation 19 months ago, Israel's coalition government seemed ominously fragile. The carefully crafted alliance called for Prime Minister Shimon Peres of the moderate Labor Party to rule for 25 months and then switch places with Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, head of the rightist Likud bloc, for another 25 months. Last week an outbreak of name-calling and political pique showed just how delicate that arrangement could be by propelling the government into its latest crisis.

The trouble began two weeks ago, when outspoken Finance Minister Yitzhak Moda'i, a Likud member, blasted Peres in newspaper interviews. Moda'i, who...

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