Israel The Government Takes a Fall

As the parties start to haggle, cobbling together a new one could delay the peace process for months

His rivals consider Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir a wily political escape artist. By exhausting opponents with delaying tactics and evading crucial decisions, the Likud party leader has managed to stick to his hard-line ideology while feigning compromise, burying in procedural minutiae every proposal for Arab-Israeli peace that has come his way.

Last week the master of delay found himself cornered, however. Forced to choose between accepting U.S. Secretary of State James Baker's compromise plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Cairo and risking the collapse of his national unity government, Shamir stuck to his ideology. After a dramatic showdown on the floor...

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