Arab Members of Knesset Seek Gains from Cabinet “crisis”

Attempting to take advantage of the current Cabinet “crisis,” Arab members of Israel’s Parliament today submitted a memorandum to Premier David Ben Gurion demanding the abolition of military government in certain Arab areas of Israel and other concessions as the price for their continued support of the Ben Gurion Government. With the vote in the Parliament theoretically 60 for and 60 against the government. a few Arab votes may affect the general political situation.

Commenting on the Arab move, a spokesman for the Mapai Party, major group in the government coalition, said that the Arab leaders are well aware of the situation in the country at large and know that the government has improved conditions for the Arab population as rapidly as it can, but that they wish to force political concessions from the government at this time. The Mapai spokesman added that he did not think that the Arabs were in a position to force a new Cabinet “crisis” with their demands.

The first contact between the Mapai and Progressive Parties in negotiations looking toward the entrance of the Progressives into the government has brought no concrete achievements. Mapai negotiators have expressed the hope that differences between the two parties would be narrowed rapidly, because the “ideological divergences are small.” Progressive spokesmen feel that the major obstacles in the path of agreement are not ideological, but rather matters of practical politics such as taking the politics out of civil service and establishing a unified educational system.

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