JERUSALEM (Jan. 19)
Acting Premier Moshe Sharett may return his mandate to form a Cabinet to President Ben Zvi if the deadlock created by conflicting demands of the General Zionists and the Progressives and religious parties persists much longer, it was reported here today.
Mapai sources pointed out that the Mapai may be faced with the alternative of forming a government with the General Zionists alone or with the smaller parties–Progressives, Mizrachi and Labor Mizrachi–alone. If that situation comes to pass, these same sources assert, Mr. Sharett would prefer to attempt to form a Cabinet with the smaller parties.
As the coalition crisis enters its 50th day, Mapai leaders privately assert their willingness to drop the demand for an election law amendment which would restrict Parliamentary representation to those parties which obtain at least 4.2 percent of the total vote in a national election. This change is demanded by the General Zionists and opposed by the Progressives. The Mapai leaders are also ready to agree to naming two Deputy Ministers of Education in an effort to resolve the conflicting demands of the centrists and the Orthodox parties.
GENERAL ZIONISTS BLAME LABORITES FOR DELAY IN CABINET FORMATION
Meanwhile, Joseph Serlin, Minister of Health in this Cabinet and a top General Zionist leader, today insisted that the Mapai stick to the coalition agreement it initialled with his party last week and which agreed to the election law change and granting the Education Ministry post to the centrists. He said that at this point responsibility for the failure to form a Cabinet rests with the Labor Party.
Moshe Shapira, leader of the Orthodox Laborites, largest of the religious parties in Israel, asserted that his group has tried earnestly to form a wide coalition but that if the General Zionists persist in barring his group from a Deputy Ministership of Education, it would be willing to enter a narrower Cabinet without the General Zionists.
The Parliament yesterday formally marked the fifth anniversary of its establishment. Although general business was suspended and a reception was given by Speaker Joseph Sprinzak, the deputies seemed to be laboring under a cloud of gloom precipitated by the Cabinet crisis.