Menachem Begin, responding to strong opposition from members of his Likud Party and possible coalition partners, agreed today to postpone the controversial appointment of Moshe Dayan as his foreign minister in the next Israeligovernment.
Officials of Likud said, however, that Dayan remained Begin's choice for the position and they made it clear that today's move was little more than a tactical maneuver to heal the breach within the party and to bring potential coalition partners such as the Democratic Movement for Change back to the negotiating table.
Begin moved to calm the political uproar that surrounded Dayan's appointment within hours of leaving a hospital where he had been undergoing treatment for a heart ailment.
The compromise formula, devised with Simcha Erlich, Leader of the rebellious Liberal party faction of Likud, preserved Begin's right to nominate any minister he pleases but postponed the actual nomination until after Begin becomes prime minister-designate.
There was never much chance that the opposition of some Likud members could force Begin to withdraw his nomination of Dayan. "It is quite clear that the nomination of Mr. Dayan stands," said, Zalman Shoval, a member of the Likud executive, following today's meeting. But postponement of the formal nomination was designated primarily to bring Yigael Yadin's Democratic Movement back to the negotiating table.
Democratic Movement had broken off all negotiations with the Likud to back its demandthat Dayan's nomination be rescinded.
Likud is anxious for Yadin's party to join in a coalition because a government without it would have a parliamentary majority of only two or three seats and would throw the balance of power into the hands of tiny, ultra-orthodox religious to ask an exorbitant price to support Begin.
Whether the Likud compromise on Dayan will prove acceptable to yadin is unknown. Yadin said in a telephone interview that the decision whether or not to resume negotiations with Likud would be taken up by his party's full executive council Monday.
Dayan himself said that Begin's compromise formula was acceptable to him but he would not elaborate further.
Under established practice, Israel's president will begin meeting with the heads of all the political parties that won Knesset seats in the recent election and, on Monday, June 6, will ask Begin, as leader of the party with the most seats, to form a government. At that time, Begin is expected to put forward Dayan's name formally as foreign minister.
The Dayan issue provoked demonstrations today in front of Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv both for and against the former defense minister. Anti-Dayan demostrators waved signs sauing, "Enough of Moshe Dayan." Pro-Dayan demonstrators booed them.
Begin was released this morning from the hospital where he had been under observation since Monday. He suffered a heart attack some weeks before the election and was readmitted to the hospital reportedly suffering from exhaustion.