Menu JTA Search

Possibility for Israel Cabinet Crisis Heightens; Compromise Rejected

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

The possibility of a Cabinet crisis was heightened today as a result of a decision taken by the political committee of the Achdut Avoda to reject all proposals advanced by Premier David Ben Gurion’s Mapai party for a compromise solution. The Premier’s quarrel with the Cabinet members of the left-wing Achdut Avoda centers around his charge that they revealed a secret Cabinet plan to send a “leading personality” to West Germany to negotiate Israel security matters with the Bonn Government. He demands that they either apologize publicly or resign.

The sentiment of the Achdut Avoda meeting, which was attended by the party’s two Cabinet members and its Knesset deputies, was that the party had committed no “disloyalty” against the government or against the security of the state and therefore would accept no “punishment” as suggested by Mr. Ben Gurion.

As of today then, the ball was back in Mr. Ben Gurion’s hands. It is understood that he agreed to a 48-hour postponement of a decision yesterday only because of urgent appeals from the Progressive Party which hoped either to work out a compromise between the Mapai and the leftists or convince the General Zionist Party to enter the coalition in place of the Achdut Avoda and the Mapam.

PROGRESSIVES TO SUBMIT COMPROMISES TO CABINET MEETING TODAY

A Progressive Party spokesman revealed today that Premier Ben Gurion still insists on the resignation of the Achdut Avoda or the entire Cabinet must resign. He revealed, however, that his party would submit to tomorrow’s extraordinary Cabinet session three possible compromises designed to end the current crisis. They are:

1. The Cabinet should denounce the Achdut Avoda’s action as a violation of national security.

2. The Cabinet should sponsor a constitutional amendment giving the Premier the right to demand the resignation of any Minister found “by a qualified majority” of the Cabinet to have divulged Cabinet secrets.

3. The Cabinet should hold a series of Cabinet discussions designed to establish an official foreign policy line which would permit the Ministers concerned with this policy to carry it out without asking further Cabinet approval and without risking Cabinet crises after acting on it.

Meanwhile, political observers here believed that Mr. Ben Gurion has become less eager to oust the leftists from the government in the face of the Progressives’ reluctance to enter a Cabinet based on a single vote majority. The General Zionists and the religious parties currently in the opposition apparently have asked too high a price for entrance into a broader coalition.

Another activity of Cabinet members during the past 24 hours was the discussion of the possible wording of a Cabinet denunciation of Achdut Avoda’s action, coupled with a change in the personnel of the party’s representation in the Cabinet. A change in Achdut Avoda representation appeared close to Mr. Ben Gurion’s heart.

COMMUNISTS MAKE FUTILE GESTURE IN KNESSET; ARE VOTED DOWN

Meanwhile, the Israel Communist Party made a new, futile gesture in relation to the crisis-torn Ben Gurion government today when it introduced a motion to censure the government for aligning itself with the “NATO-Nazi regime.” The motion was voted down 65 to six, with 22 abstentions. Only the Communists voted for censure.

The Premier refused to make formal reply to the Communist charges. He called from his seat that it would be “below the Knesset’s dignity” for him to reply. The General Zionists and the Herut deputies abstained. Even the Mapam and Achdut Avoda parties voted with the government.

NEXT STORY