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Czech Communists Lose Majority

Czechoslavakia and Israel to Restore Diplomatic Ties


PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia--The Communist Party on Tuesday handed over more than 100 of its parliamentary seats to pro-democracy groups to end its four-decade hold on the nation's legislature.

Also Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry announced Czechoslovakia and Israel are expected to restore diplomatic ties on Feb. 8, when Foreign Minister Moshe Arens of Israel visits this capital.

Czechoslovakia, one of Israel's strongest supporters after the Jewish state was founded in 1948, broke off ties over objections to the 1967 ArabIsraeli war.

The realignment of parliament completed an effort to include Czechoslovakia's emerging reform groups in the Federal Assembly before free elections scheduled for June 8.

It was the latest abdication of Communist power following a popular revolution in November.

Parliament swore in 120 new deputies, only nine of them Communists, under an agreement by various parties and the opposition to replace more than one-third of the 350-member parliament.

The action sliced the Communists' representation from 242 to 139, marking the first time since the late 1940s that the Communists have not dominated the legislature.

All but nine of the new seats went to the opposition and other, established political parties.

More than 40 political parties have emerged in the two months since parliament removed the constitutional provision guaranteeing the Communist Party's leading role.

The realignment came following broad talks between the prodemocracy leaders, the Communists and four traditionally allied parties.

Earlier, several discredited Communist deputies were asked to resign and were replaced by candidates of the Civic Forum, a loose reform coalition.

Deputy Zdenek Jicinsky, one of the new Civic Forum deputies and a constitutional lawyer once forced to work in menial jobs for his human rights activities, on Tuesday presented a draft election law to the legislature.

The legislation requires final approval from the country's new non-Communist president, Vaclav Havel.

The draft proposes the principle of proportional representation in the elections, with several limitation clauses.

Although Jicinsky did not give precise figures in his presentation, Civic Forum sources indicate a minimum of 10,000 supporters and five percent of the total national vote will be required for a party to put a member in parliament.

Petr Pithart, another newly elected deputy and a leader of the Civic Forum, said he expected six to seven new political parties would be elected into parliament.

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