JERUSALEM (Dec. 19)
Premier David Ben Gurion gave the left-wing Achdut Avoda Party the choice today of leaving the coalition Cabinet or accepting public responsibility for deliberately violating the secrecy of Cabinet decision to send a “leading personality” to West Germany to seek Bonn’s support for an international guarantee of Israel’s borders. (In New York it was indicated that the “leading personality” was Maj. Gen. Moshe Dayan, Chief of Staff.)
There seemed little likelihood that the Achdut Avoda would yield to the Premier’s ultimatum. The leadership of the party, an offshoot of the Mapam, was in session for most of the day and, although there was no formal reply late today to the Premier, the trend of debate within the committee indicated no retreat.
Earlier today, Premier Ben Gurion received formal support from his top Mapai associates for his demand that Achdut Avoda, resign from the Government. The support came in the form of a communique, issued at the end of a four-hour meeting of top Mapai officials, announcing full backing for the Prime Minister’s stand that the Achdut Avoda action was “incompatible” with continued participation of the party in the government coalition led by Mapai.
The Mapai leaders communique accused Achdut Avoda, a splinter group of former Mapam leaders, of “sabotage for narrow party interests of state security in a matter of supreme importance, ” and that the party ‘must accept all the consequences of its action.” Before the communique was issued, the left-wing Mapam political committee announced opposition to any changes in the coalition and a demand for more cooperation among the coalition partners based on “agreed major principles.”
The Mapam statement had been based on a belief that Mapai would not force a government exists, a calculation upset by the Mapai communique demanding the ouster of the two Achdut Avoda ministers. An already-indicated decision of Mapam to quit if the Achdut Avoda was forced out would mean the fall of the present Government. All political parties scheduled urgent conferences to decide party stands in the new crisis.
Prospects for survival of the coalition Cabinet seemed to have worsened at the day’s end following meetings of the leadership of every political group and some interparty discussion. Nonetheless, at Mapai headquarters all hope was not dead of saving the situation and the Mapai secretarial was scheduled to meet Saturday night to explore compromise formulas which might have arisen by then.
It was considered certain here that even if an Achdut Avoda ouster and a Mapam withdrawal toppled the government, Mr. Ben Gurion would be able to reform his coalition and still have a one vote majority in the Knesset. There was also a good chance that the Agudas Israel might enter the government and thus increase its majority.