JERUSALEM (Jul. 5)
Premier David Ben Gurion tonight announced his resignation following the refusal of the four left-wing members of his Cabinet to leave their posts of their own will. He was to submit the resignation officially to President Itzhak Ben Zvi at about midnight, immediately after the President’s return to his residence from Holon where he is guest of the Karaite community.
The four dissident ministers, on whose resignation Premier Ben Gurion insisted, are the representatives of the Mapam and Achdut Avodah parties who voted in Parliament against Israel’s arms deal with West Germany which Mr. Ben Gurion defended. The Premier considered their action a breach of the Cabinet’s collective responsibility.
At today’s last meeting of the coalition Cabinet, Premier Ben Gurion refused to serve as chairman as long as the left-wing members were participating. The four rebel ministers have, however, refused to resign, insisting that the entire Cabinet must resign Mr. Ben Gurion, who received progress reports on the Cabinet deliberations in an adjacent room, then sent notice that he would wait until evening, and in the event the four ministers still had not resigned, he would announce the dissolution of his Government “not later than tomorrow.”
Premier Ben Gurion’s resignation brings about the automatic dissolution of the Government under the existing law. President Ben Zvi must now consult leaders of all parties and then invite one to form a new government. There is no doubt that he will invite Mr. Ben Gurion again for this task. Mr. Ben Gurion would have the choice between the formation of a new Cabinet or a temporary caretaker government till after the November national elections. It is assumed that he will chose the latter.
BEN GURION SEEKS SUPPORT OF OTHER PARTIES FOR A “MINORITY GOVERNMENT”
Before the fall of the Cabinet today, Mr. Ben Gurion received this morning leaders of the National Religious Party, which has 11 seats in Parliament, and sought their support for the formation of a “Minority Government” to be composed of members of his own Mapai Party and of the Progressive Party–without the left-wing parties–till after the national elections.
It is understood that the leaders of the National Religious Party, which is composed of the Mizrachi and Hapoel Hamizrachi, countered with a proposal for setting up a “National Government” to be headed by Moshe Shapiro, leader of their party and former Minister for Social Welfare and Religious Affairs. Mr. Shapiro is at present on a visit in the United States. The leaders of the National Religious Party indicated that they have received support from other political parties in Israel for their proposal.
One of the last acts of the Cabinet at its meeting today was to vote that in the future all arms deals must be brought before a Ministerial Committee for Security and Foreign Affairs and later to the entire Cabinet for final approval.
The arms deal with West Germany which precipitated the Cabinet crisis, was, meanwhile, taken today to the public in what was widely considered the first broadside in the campaign for the November national elections. Country-wide rallies were held today at which the debaters were mainly Mapai leaders arguing in favor of the arms agreement and leftists who argued against it. The right-wing Herut and the National Religious party, which both oppose the agreement, remained on the sidelines.
Some 500 Communists staged a noisy demonstration against the pact in Tel Aviv. Other protest was staged by former partisans who fought the Nazis underground in various countries. Tempers ran high and police were posted at both demonstrations.
During the week-end, leaders of Mr. Ben Gurion’s Mapai Party met with the Premier’s participation, to discuss the possibility of arranging the national elections earlier than November, as scheduled. This would have spared the caretaker government from carrying the burden of the state till after November. However, it was pointed out that any predating of the elections would require the approval of the Parliament. The Mapai Party leaders also discussed the formation of a “Minority Cabinet” including non-party personalities taking the portfolios held hitherto by the four left-wing rebel members.