JERUSALEM (Feb. 28)
The reports from Washington and the United Nation that the Israel Government may announce its withdrawal of troops from the Gaza and Akaba areas aroused great unrest in the Herut Party, the second largest in Parliament, which is not represented in the government, as well as in the chdut Avodah laborite group which is represented in the Cabinet.
The Achdut Avodah officially demanded today the immediate convocation of Parliament. It also insisted on an immediate session of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Security Committee “in view of the grave developments at the United Nations and the United States with regard to Gaza and Akaba areas.” An emergency session of the national committee of Achdah Avodah has been summoned for Sunday.
The Herut Party was planning today demonstrations against the withdrawal of troops from the Gaza and Aka a areas. The rightist party opposes any retreat by the government from the position approved in Parliament January 23 insisting on an Israeli civil administration in the Gaza Strip.
Earlier in the day, government officials denied that Israel will announce withdrawal plans within 48 hours. They said that even if agreement was reached between Israel and the United States, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion might find it “very difficult” to persuade Israelis to accept “retreats.” It was asserted that while Mr. Ben Gurion considers the Akaba issue of primary importance, the Israeli public is much more sensitive to the Gaza Strip problem which is “close to home” and where both “retreat” and its possible immediate consequences in increased fedayeen activities would produce political repercussions.
The Achdut Avodah may attempt to hold up approval of the agreement reached in Washington between Secretary Dulles and Ambassador Abba Eban until Sunday night or Monday. In the event the Achdut Avodah and Mapam decide that the agreement represents too great a retreat, and if the centrist General Zionists continue to adhere to their line, Premier Ben Gurion cannot obtain a vote of confidence in Parliament. That vote is necessary inasmuch as Parliament on January 23 adopted a resolution demanding Israeli civil administration of the Gaza Strip.