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Likud Talks of Early Elections in Struggle with Labor Party

May 24, 1988

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s right-wing Likud bloc today threatened to hold early national elections in an escalating political struggle with the Labor Party, its coalition partner and chief rival.

The jockeying over dates followed a shift in popularity to Likud prompted by voters’ fears of violence in the five-month Palestinian uprising.

Likud’s threat to push for elections on Aug. 23 came after Foreign Minister Shimon Peres’ left-of-center Labor Party proposed separating national and municipal elections, both now scheduled for Nov. 1.

″It is worth holding early elections because many things have not been decided,″ Shamir told reporters while touring the northern town of Yoqneam. ″If possible, we should shorten to gain time and to avoid public nervousness.″

Transport Minister Chaim Korfu was quoted by the daily Haaretz today as saying, ″Labor is trying to violate the coalition agreement again, and therefore there’s no point in continuing the partnership.″

News reports say Labor wants to separate national and city balloting so Likud’s new popularity would not threaten Labor’s hold on municipal offices. In response, Shamir’s party called for elections in August when many of Labor’s middle-class backers are on vacation abroad.

In Jerusalem’s walled Old City, Likud legislators Dov Shilansky and Ovadiya Eli toured the sacred Temple Mount, guarded by some 400 policemen, Israel army radio said today. The mount is one of the holiest sites in Islam.

The radio quoted Shilansky as saying he intended to show ″the Jewish presence″ on the site, which also houses the remnants of the ancient Jewish Temple.

Police barred a group of activists of the Jewish group Temple Mount Faithful from entering the area after their leader, Gershon Salomon, called Moslem official Sheik Jamal Rifai an agent of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Israel radio said.

Meanwhile, police safely dismantled a bomb planted near the door of a house in the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo, a police spokesman said.

In the West Bank, a spokesman for the military government said damage was done to some Arab schools used as bases by soldiers during the Palestinian uprising and at least one school in Nablus was seriously vandalized.

Israeli news reports said windows, chairs and desks were smashed at the Khalduniya school in Nablus. Anti-Arab slogans were scrawled on the walls and there was excrement found in some of the rooms on Sunday, according to the Jerusalem Post and the Haaretz.

″There was serious damage in some of the schools, but we are taking care of everything and repairing it,″ said Olivier Rafowicz, army government spokesman. ″We repair it and we pay for it.″

Rafowicz stressed the army had used only 30 of more than 1,194 West Bank school buildings.

Many schools in the area were used by the army as headquarters and temporary detention centers during the four-month, army-imposed closure of schools in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip which kept 475,000 Palestinian students from class.

On Monday, the army administration reopened the West Bank’s 612 elementary schools and kindergartens, serving 203,000 Palestinian youngsters.

The army cited a drop in violence as the reason for reopening schools. Rafowicz said that ″over 90 percent of students and all the teachers showed up for classes.″

The PLO-linked leaders of the uprising, who call themselves the United National Leadership, said in their latest underground leaflet that ″our glorious victory by going back to school proves our slogan that we learn in whatever circumstances.″ The latest leaflet, No. 17, was circulated in the West Bank on Monday.

The leaflet also called for a one-day general strike on Wednesday to mark 40 days since the assassination of PLO military leader Khalil Wazir, or Abu Jihad, who is widely believed to have been killed by Israeli commandos.

In another development, a Palestinian woman, Muneira Daoud, was charged with causing serious bodily harm for allegedly hurling a stone at a Jewish settler that prompted him to open fire and accidentally kill an Israeli teen- ager in the West Bank village of Beita.

According to Israeli media reports, Ms. Daoud stoned settler guard Romam Aldubi after he shot and killed her brother and another Arab during a clash involving Jewish settler hikers and Palestinians on April 6.

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