Ben Gurion to Resign Today; Failed to Achieve Cabinet Discipline

Premier David Ben Gurion announced today that he would hand in the resignation of his Cabinet tomorrow. The announcement came after two Cabinet sessions and a lengthy meeting of the Mapai political committee which backed the Premier’s decision.

An official communique, issued three hours after the second Cabinet session, reviewed Mr. Ben Gurion’s postponement of the submission of the government’s resignation last Tuesday in accordance with a request urging further attempts to “repair the damage caused by Achdut Avoda.” The “damage” referred to was the left-wing Socialist parry’s publicizing a Cabinet secret decision to send a “leading personality” to purchase arms from West Germany.

The communique further notea that Mr. Ben Gurion’s efforts were directed toward ensuring the future maintenance of collective responsibility of the government, in principle and in practice, to prevent injury to Israel’s international position and its security requirements. “To his regret.” the communique stated, “he has not succeeded in his efforts and will submit his resignation to the President not later than Tuesday, December 31.”

LAST-MINUTE SOLIT OVER FORMULA ON COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY

The issue over which today’s last-minute attempts to save the Cabinet came to grief was the formula for enforcing collective responsibility. The Premier demanded that a Minister be required to resign for breach of collective responsibility upon the vote of six other Ministers–two each representing three different parties in the coalition.

Meanwhile, the government made public tonight a decision adopted at last Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting but not released until today upon instructions of the Cabinet. It stated: “The government reiterates that the gravity of the security situation in which the state has been placed makes it essential to increase its defensive capacity by the acquisition of equipment from any quarter and any source, the government considers the publicity given last week to the government’s confidential decision to be harmful to the state and a grave violation of the principle of collective responsibility of the government for its decisions.”

ALTERNATIVES FACED BY BEN GURION AFTER FALL OF CABINET

Now that the Cabinet has fallen, the following alternatives face Mr. Ben Guriont 1. He can continue to rule the country with a “small coalition” of the Mapai, Progressive and Mizrachi Poale Mizrachi which can muster 61 votes in the 12.0-member Knesset; 2. He can try to obtain the adherence of the Agudas Israel and Poale Agudah with four additional votes or the General Zionists with 10 votes; 3. He can form a caretaker government and advance the date of the national elections from October 1959 when they are presently scheduled to be held.

None of these alternatives is particularly appealing to the Mapai and its Premier. He is expected to continue negotiations with the religious parties as well as the right wing General Zionists. The latter are sure to demand a high price for entrance into the Cabinet if they overcome a reluctance to do so based on their estimate that the presence of the party in the government will cost it votes in a 1959 election.

For technical reasons an early election could not be held before July or August of this year–also an unattractive proposition because the voting would conflict with the country’s tenth anniversary celebrations which will be at their peak during the summer.

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