Israeli Authorities Weigh Arrest of Leading Mapam Member

The Israel Attorney General will decide within the next 24 to 48 hours whether he has enough evidence to proceed with an indictment of Aharon Cohen, 50, Mapam leader and resident of kibbutz Shaar Haamakim, on alleged crimes against the State, a security official reported here tonight. He confirmed that an investigation had been initiated of Cohen, a member of the Mapam Central Committee and a specialist on Arab affairs who has published a number of books on the Middle East and the Arabs.

In a startling and unprecedented development today. Premier David Ben Gurion Issued an appeal to the public not to judge the man involved in this case (he did not name Mr. Cohen) and that a court was the only competent body to decide the matter. He also asked that no group be condemned for the alleged crime of one of its members.

The revelation that Mr. Cohen was involved and Mr. Ben Gurin’s plea added fuel to a situation in which the public followed avidly every published hint or statement on the case.

Political activity reached a new fever peak this week-end following the break-up of a meeting of representatives of the Mapai, Mapam and Achdut Avodah, called on the initiative of the last named, to discuss the possibilities of a combined slate for the forthcoming Knesset elections. It took the position that if the three parties could achieve a basis for agreement in governing the country, they ought to be able to reach agreement on a combined Knesset slate.

Top leaders of the three parties assembled for the meeting to discuss this possibility-Premier. David Ben Gurion’s Mapai Party was represented by Finance Minister Levi Eshkol and Foreign Minister Golda Melr. Two members of the cabinet and two of the party’s principal spokesmen in the Knesset represented Mapam. Achdut Avodah was represented by a cabinet minister and its leading Knesset members.

Before these leaders assembled, however, the Achdut Avodah organ, Lamerhav, had accused Mapam of seeking to suppress the investigation of one of its members by exerting political pressure. Consequently, when the meeting opened, Mapam immediately demanded discussion of this “violation of the coalition agreement.” The meeting then broke up. Later the Achdut Avodah informed the Mapam the article was published without party authorization, that the writer responsible was discharged, and invited the Mapam to rejoin the conference.

Earlier, the Mapam central committee issued a statement confirming publicly that on investigation was proceeding against a prominent member of Mapam whom it described as not having been active in party affairs in many years. In view of the blackout on news of the case imposed by the authorities, the statement asserted, it could not make public the facts. The statement strongly denied that Mapam was exerting any political pressure to head off the investigation and affirmed that the party would not conceal any crime against the State. It pointed out that the charges against the party member had not been substantiated and the party would do everything in his defense.

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