INTRODUCTION: Israel is still recovering from the shock announcement by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on Thursday (7 April) that he was resigning as Labour Party leader.
INTRODUCTION: Israel is still recovering from the shock announcement by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on Thursday (7 April) that he was resigning as Labour Party leader. The country is in political confusion, with Mr Rabin's sudden resignation coming only five weeks before he was due to lead the Labour Party into general elections.
SYNOPSIS: Mr Rabin made his announcement in an unscheduled broadcast on Israeli television. He said he was quitting because an official investigation had revealed he and his wife, Leah, held an illegal bank account in the United States.
As he left the television studio, Mr Rabin was met by dozens of newspaper and television reporters. He had no comment. Mr Rabin told his television audience that he accepted full responsibility with his wife for any infringement of Israeli currency laws, and that he had no alternative but to resign.
But Mr Rabin's resignation announcement had gone unnoticed by many Israelis who turned off their sets and went out into the streets to celebrate a Tel Aviv basketball team's win in the European Cup final in Yugoslavia that same evening. Their mood was a little more serious in the cold light of day when the full implications of their leader's resignation began to take effect. Resident Israelis are prevented by law from holding foreign currency accounts abroad. Mr Rabin, who succeeded Mrs. Golda Meir as Prime Minister in June, 1974 was ambassador in Washington for five years.
Israeli Labour Party officials plunged into crisis talks on Friday (8 April) in an effort to find a new leader. An even greater problem is to find a Prime Minister from now until the elections, because Mr. Rabin says he also wants to relinquish that office immediately, although he did not formally resign from it. There have been reports that Mr Rabin might merely take leave of absence and turn his responsibilities over to his deputy Prime Minister, Yigal Allon.