Middle East So Much for National Unity

A peace initiative threatens to bring down the Israeli coalition

For 32 months it has been billed as a national unity coalition, but the two wings of the Jerusalem government last week displayed little evidence of anything approaching harmony. "Perverse and criminal!" cried Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir at Foreign Minister Shimon Peres' proposal to convene an international peace conference in the region. Peres, the leader of the Labor Party, retaliated by accusing his coalition partner of "character assassination."

Twice last week the ten-member Israeli inner Cabinet met to debate the issue, and twice the sessions ended in stalemate. Peres threatened to break up the coalition and call new elections if the...

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