JERUSALEM (Dec. 29)
The meeting of the Israel Cabinet at which the pending government crisis was supposed to have been resolved was postponed from today until tomorrow to give Premier David Ben Gurion additional time to conduct another round of talks with parties inside his coalition and with several groups in the opposition whom he hopes to attract to the government side.
Shimon Peres, director general of the Israel Defense Ministry, returned today from a four-day mission to Europe which took him, among other places, to Benn Mr. Peres was thought to be the substitute for the “leading personality” Mr, Ben Gurion wanted to send to West Germany to negotiate the purchase of arms. The Cabinet crisis blew up over Achdut Avodas leaking of the Cabinet decision to send such a “leading personality” to Bonn. Mr. Peres refused comment on his mission when he Landea at Lydda Airport.
The Cabinet crisis, meanwhile, took a turn for the worse today when the Achdut Avoda and its left-wing partner,Mapam, indicated a negative reply to the Premier’s demands for a freer hand in foreign policy, protection against violation of Cabinet secrecy and guarantees of tighter discipline among the member parties in the government coalition.
The two left Socialist groups have formed a joint committee to draft their reply to Mr. Ben Gurion (the Achdut Avoda is an offshoot of the Mapam). A clue to their answer was given at a public meeting yesterday when Achdut Avoda leaders Itzhak Bar Yehuda and Israel Ben Aharon said that they would not accept partnership in the government on a “shut mouth” basis. They charged the Premier with wanting to impose a “military governorship” over the Cabinet, with attempting to “Germanize” the country’s foreign policy and with trying to reduce the Achdut Avoda Ministers to second grade level in the Cabinet.
POSSIBILITY GROWS THAT BEN GURION WILL SUBMIT HIS RESIGNATION
While the left-wing groups were holding last minute consultations, the Premier was attempting to convince the Progressive Party leadership to join him in a “small coalition” without the Mapam and Achdut Avoda. The centrists, practically the only group in the Cabinet to support the Premier’s demands for tightening of policy and security control in the Cabinet, have consistently shied away from participation in a coalition which will only command a slim one-vote majority in the Knesset.
The religious parties in the government–Mizrachi-Poale Mizrachi–opposed the “administrative punishment” provisions of the Premier’s program for reconstitution of the present coalition. Mr. Ben Gurion is slated to confer tonight with other religious parties–Agudah and Poale Agudah- who are in the opposition, to join the coalition in the leftists are ousted.
Even as the possibility grows that Mr. Ben Gurion will submit his Cabinet’s resignation to Parliament tomorrow, observers here believe that either he must obtain entrance of the centrist General Zionists into the Cabinet or dissolve Parliament and schedule national elections 18 months before Parliament’s term is over. Dr. Peretz Bernstein, General Zionist leader, declared this week-end that his party would not join the Ben Gurion government even if the Mapam and Achdut Avoda were easea out.
Another General Zionist leader. Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Israel Rokach, advocated today a bicameral legislature in Israel to “filter, strain and restrain” legislation enacted by Parliament. He urged replacement of the present proportional representation system from party lists with single member constituency representation. He asserted this would bring closer contact between constituencies and the deputies who represent them in Parliament.