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Conference Opens in Palestine to Decide Fate of Jewish Labor Party

The eyes of the entire Yishuv were directed today to a small settlement, Kfar Vitkin, where the fate of the Jewish Labor Party (Mapai) which plays the leading role in the upbuilding of Palestine, is to be decided at a conference attended by 401 delegates representing all a actions of the party in all parts of the country.

Everybody in Palestine is aware that the Jewish labor movement in Palestine is undergoing a severe crisis due to internal strife within the ranks of the Jewish Labor Party on issues concerning security and labor problems. Leaders of the party have chosen small settlement for their conference in order to avoid any destructions. There are only 180 Jewish families in Kfar Vitkin which is located in Emek Hefer.

The conference was opened today by Joseph Sprinzak, Histadruth leader, with an appeal for unity. “Jewish Labor in Palestine must maintain its unity in order to be able to face the dangers from all sides,” he said. His appeal was followed by a two-hour address delivered by David Ben-Gurion in which the forty years of the party’s existence in Palestine were reviewed and the party’s contribution to the upbuilding of the Jewish National Home were emphasized.

David Remese, one of the leading figures in the Jewish Labor Party, in a statement given to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on the position of the party, said: “The roots of the present crisis in our ranks are psychological rather than ideological. The Jewish Labor Party has faced crises on such issues as the agreement with Jabotinsky, the plan to have Palestine partitioned, the White Paper and other similar important questions, but always succeeded in coming out unscathed. Let us hope that a miracle will save our party now.”

MAIN ISSUES OF THE FIGHT; MODERATES TRY TO EFFECT RECONCILIATION

The main issues in the fight within the ranks of the Labor group are certain agreements reached with the Revisionists with regard to security problems as well as the attitude which the party has taken towards the anti-strike law promulgated by the Palestine Government. Other issues are also involved. The strangest group within the opposition-the Kibutz Hameuchad – is opposed to the attitude taken by the executive of the Jewish Agency on certain problems and charges the Laborite members of the Jewish Agency with an ” opportunistic approach” to these problems and with ” an inconsistent and weak defense of the labor interests.”

Leaders of the Kibbutz Hameuched are Isaac Tobenkin and Aaron Zisling. The struggle which they are waging is directed chiefly against the group within the Labor Party led by David Ben-Gurion, David Remes, Moshe Shertok and Berl Katznelson. This internal strife has been going on for some time but was kept hidden. It broke into the open recently at a Laborite meeting in the township of Nahalal leading to a demand by Ben-Gurion that the party either be reorganized or dissolved.

Members of a third, moderate group within the Jewish Labor Party are now making all possible efforts to bring about a reconciliation between the two other factions in order to avoid a split which would be harmful to the interests of Jewish development in Palestine. It is believe that the prospects for such a reconciliation have greatly improved during the last few days.

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