Shamir’s Government, 1990
Shamir’s government, approved by the Knesset on June 11, 1990, by a vote of 62 to 57, with one abstention, was relatively narrow in scope (Labor would not join) and potentially fragile. The coalition was vulnerable to threats from small parties or even individuals with their own agendas.
The delicate balancing of competing demands and the quest for the funds to pursue specific policies at times of budget constraints complicated the issues for the prime minister and made coalition bargaining a continuous and more complex process. nevertheless, the relative stability of the government was assured in the short term, barring a major international challenge relating either to the prospects for war or peace or to a major domestic challenge that would be more politically focused on particular policies, political maneuvering, or patronage related issues.
In the presentation of the government, Shamir reiterated some standard themes but also stressed the need for action in the areas of immigrant absorption and socioeconomic policy. In foreign policy, he restated some of Likud’s central perspectives (shared by parties to its right on the political spectrum) in ways not previously stated in formal government guidelines.
For example, his government program stated, “The eternal right of the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael is not subject to question and is intertwined with its right to security and peace.” It also asserted, “Settlement in all parts of Eretz Yisrael is the right of our people and an integral part of national security; the government will act to strengthen settlement, to broaden and develop it.”
Shamir restated the refusal to negotiate with the PLO, reiterated the view that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel, and added that Jerusalem would not be included in the framework of autonomy for the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the Gaza Strip. In a general sense, the overriding goal was the security of Israel within a relatively peaceful environment that reduced the prospects for full-scale war with the Arab states.
In the wake of the formation of the new Shamir government, the peace process was suspended. Within Labor, questions about Peres’s role as party leader reemerged, and his position would be tested within the party hierarchy in July 1990. Peres succeeded in retaining his position, despite a challenge from Rabin.