TEL AVIV (May. 11)
Spokesmen for the Israel General Zionists and the right-wing Herut party traded charges of blame today for the failure of the latest effort to arrange a merger of the two parties. A lengthy meeting ended in disagreement.
The Herut Central Council charged the General Zionists with responsibility for the collapse of the talks, as well as for the failure of unification parleys in 1956. The Herut statement added that recent General Zionist proposals, both in content and in spirit, brought about the present failure.
Joseph Sapir, chairman of the General Zionist party and one of the unity negotiators, replied that “it was a great idea, but it seems that Herut retreated at the last minute from merger. ” He added that the deadlock was over the question of who would lead the new list for elections to Knessets.
He said that the General Zionists proposed that the person to head the Knesset list should be decided by the executive of the merged new party but that the Herut demanded agreement on Menachem Beigin, Herut party chief, as leader of the list, making it a major condition for merger agreement.
Mr. Saphir, a member of the Knesset, said that talks actually were in two phases. One was discussions on a proposed platform. These were held in a friendly atmosphere and the negotiators reached agreement, he said. The goal laid down in the platform was to replace the present coalition government by a “national liberal regime.”
The second phase was that of organizational problems in which, Saphir stressed, the General Zionists were faced with “an unlimited desire by Herut leaders for domination” over the proposed new party. The Herut statement today was regarded as a decision to discontinue merger negotiations.