• Short Summary

    In Israel--the Government of Prime Minister Menachem Begin has been facing a tough test of survival.

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    In Israel--the Government of Prime Minister Menachem Begin has been facing a tough test of survival. The challenge comes from two fronts. In the Knesset--Israel's parliament--members have been debating tighter abortion laws, which have been promised to an orthodox religious group in return for their support for Mr. Begin's coalition. If they should lose the vote then Mr. Begin's coalition Government would be in jeopardy. And Mr. Begin also faces more problems over the legality of a Jewish settlement on the West Bank.

    SYNOPSIS: Israeli bulldozers have started work on a new site for Jewish settlers from Elon Moreh. Israel's Supreme Court has ordered Elon Moreh be returned to its Arab owners, after rejecting an Israeli Government claim that the settlement was vital to national security. Under international law, an occupying country is permitted to settle occupied areas only for defence purposes.

    The crisis for Mr. Begin was increased when West Bank Arabs objected to the creation of the new settlement at Jebel Kabir. And the Jewish settlers are also objecting to the move. The new site is on common land and will cost an initial 60 million Israel pounds (two million dollars).

    Meanwhile, in the Knesset in Jerusalem Mr. Begin was in danger of upsetting another orthodox religious group. The Knesset's 120 members debated the repeal of a clause allowing abortion for economic or social reasons.

    The proposal is in the line with an undertaking given by Mr. Begin to a minority party - the Agudat Israel Party. And it is the second time in just over a month that it has been put before members. Mr. Begin hopes to retain the support of the Agudat Ysrael Party's four vital seats by tightening the abortion laws. Failure to do so would reduce him majority to the point where his government's future could be easily threatened.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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