There have been major political developments in Israel during the past two weeks. The latest?
SCU Library footage Israeli Housing Minister Avraham Ofer in crowd in new housing estate (suit, dark glasses) Yamit, Israel, December 1976.
SV Children waving Israeli flags at Ofer
SV & GV Ofer walking with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (on right; without jacket (2 shots)
SV Newspaper shop PAN TO SVs & CU people reading newspaper stories about Ofer's death, Tel Aviv, 4 January, 1977 (3 shots)
GVs Beach and Ofer's car at scene of death, Tel Baruch, (3 shots)
GVs & SVs Ofer's house in Tel Baruch suburb, PAN TO car outside and policeman passing (3 shots)
GV Road PAN TO housing estate in Tel Baruch
SV Rabin arriving at Israeli President Ephraim Katzir's residence, Jerusalem, 4 January 1977
CU Plaque on wall of house
SV INT katzir and Rabin ZOOM IN TO CUs Katzir speaking in Hebrew (2 shots)
CUs Rabin speaking in Hebrew, and SV two men shake hands (3 shots)
Mr. Rabin's precipitated the present political crisis on Sunday (29 December) when he dismissed the 10 member National Religious Party (NRP). The NRP members who had been part of the coalition by which Mr. Rabin ruled Israel abstained in a vote of no confidence against the government the previous week. The dismissals lost Mr. Rabin's government its small majority in parliament.
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Background: There have been major political developments in Israel during the past two weeks. The latest came on Tuesday (4 January) when President Ephraim Katzir formally asked Prime Minister Rabin to form a new government -- at the same time as news broke that Israeli Housing Minister Avraham Ofer had committed suicide.
One of Mr. Ofer's last public appearances took place in December, when he accompanied Mr. Rabin on this tour of a new housing estate at Yamit. Mr. Ofer had been a minister in Mr. Rabin's labour alignment and most Israelis were stunned to her of his death. Before entering the government Mr. Ofer was Director-General of the giant Shikun Ovdim construction firm, owned by a trade union group.
High level police investigations into allegations of corruption during his time with the company were in progress when he died. Mr. Ofer left a note denying that he had embezzled public funds -- before shooting himself in his car on a deserted beach near Tel Aviv on Monday (3 January). Mr. Ofer will receive a state funeral -- as called for by Israeli government custom on the death of a service minister.
However the Polish born minister's death at the age of 55 is not expected to have much influence on the current political situation in Israel. One opposition politician, retired Major-General Ezer Weizman, has already said that he will not make use of it and his statement appears to reflect the feelings of most Israelis.
While the Israeli man in the street was absorbing the news of Mr. Ofer's death, Prime Minister Rabin was on his way to visit President Ephraim Katzir in Jerusalem -- for what observers there describe as a constitutional formality. It amounted to the President asking Mr. Rabin to form a new government -- and Mr. Rabin announced his acceptance. The Prime Minister at present heads a minority caretaker cabinet, made up only of Labour ministers -- following his dismissal of three national religious party ministers and the resignation of two ministers from the Independent Liberal Party two weeks ago.
Mr. Rabin's new government will also be and interim measure -- he has 21 days to work out his plans, with the possibility of a 21 day extension, but in May there will be a general election.