Ben Gurion Seeks to Avoid Cabinet Crisis; Confers with Party Leaders

Premier David Ben Gurion conferred today with leaders of the parties in his coalition government in an attempt to fashion an accord on questions which threaten the continuity of the present cabinet.

The issues involve the general authority of the rabbinate in the personal affairs of the Jewish population. They have been thrust in the limelight by the controversy over the integration of about 900 Christian wives of newly-arrived Jews from Poland, many of whom married non-Jewish women in Russia long before they were repatriated to Poland. Also, by the resentment over the fact that an uncircumcised child of an immigrant was buried last week in a section of a cemetery away from other Jews.

During his meeting today with the leaders of the United Religious Movement–Mizrachi and Hapoel Hamizrachi–Premier Ben Gurion was told flatly that they will resist any attempt to undermine the rabbinate’s authority on matters affecting religion and the issuance of birth marriage and death certificates. They asserted that there is no discrimination or coercion by the rabbinate with regard to the Christian wives of Jewish immigrants,

The Premier also met today with leaders of the leftist groups in his cabinet, as well as with Progressive Zionists. These partners in his coalition government requested complete abolition of military rule in the Arab-populated border areas. Military rule in these areas has been diminishing progressively, but the coalition parties apparently feel that the time has come for abolition of all restrictions.

The discussion between Mr. Ben Gurion and the religious leaders on one hand and with the leaders of the other groups on the other are expected to continue throughout the week. It is understood that the leftist groups in the cabinet–the Mapam and Achdut Avodah–are also requesting the appointment of their members to Israel’s foreign service.

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