JERUSALEM (Aug. 18)
The possibility of avoiding a Cabinet crisis was seen here today, after a visit paid by Prime Minister Moshe Sharett to Israel Rokach, leader of the General Zionist Party who is also a member of the Cabinet. Consultations between the leaders of the Mapai and the General Zionists, with a view to preventing a Cabinet crisis, also took place today at the home of Mr. Rokach, who is indisposed.
It is understood that Prime Minister Sharett is inclined to settle the dispute that has arisen between the Mapai and the General Zionists–the two largest groups in the Parliament–by a compromise. Mr. Sharett’s proposal is that the existing agreement between the two parties to introduce legislation aimed at eliminating small political parties should be confirmed; but the Prime Minister suggests that the implementation of this pact be postponed until after Parliament is reconvened following its summer recess.
The dispute between the Mapai and the General Zionists was precipitated when the Mapai suggested that the agreement should not be implemented before May, 1955, about two months before the next scheduled parliamentary elections. The General Zionists insisted that the agreement be implemented now. They threatened that their four Cabinet members would no longer back the policy of the Prime Minister, and that their 20 deputies in Parliament would cast their votes in a way that would deprive the government of the needed majority, thus bringing about the fall of the present Mapai-dominated Cabinet.
At his meeting today with Mr. Rokach, Prime Minister Sharett sought to find a solution satisfactory both to the Mapai and the General Zionists. He indicated that he is ready to meet the request of the General Zionists half-way. Following the talk between Mr. Sharett and Mr. Rokach, the General Zionist members in Parliament were advised by their leaders not to vote against certain clauses in the income-tax law presented by the Cabinet to the Parliament, despite the fact that the General Zionists oppose these clauses.
As a result of this move, the income-tax law was passed today by the Parliament, with the General Zionist deputies merely abstaining from voting, thus avoiding their first opportunity for creating a Cabinet crisis. Further talks between leaders of the Mapai and the General Zionists will take place, and indications today pointed to an optimistic outcome as a result of the talks.