JERUSALEM (Nov. 9)
Israel’s new Parliament, elected last week, will convene for the first time on November 23 and Premier David Ben-Gurion stepped up discussions today on composition of a coalition Cabinet in order to enable him to present the new government to the Knesset at its first session.
Mapai leaders continued today to discuss the coalition possibilities open to them as a result of Mapai’s great election victory in preparation for talks with the other political parties. Mapai is expected to discuss possible coalition composition with all the political parties except the Herut and Communist. Meanwhile, the General Zionist leaders, smarting from that party’s shattering defeat in which it lost at least five of its 13 seats in Parliament and possibly also the mayoralty of Tel Aviv, met today and discussed the conditions under which it could enter a Mapai-led coalition.
Mrs. Golda Meir, Foreign Minister in the outgoing government, has repeatedly informed Mr. Ben-Gurion that she does not want to retain that post in the new government but the Premier is said to be insistent and hopeful that he can persuade his long-time associate to retain that difficult post.
Former Ambassador Abba S. Eban was expected to enter the Cabinet as a minister without portfolio if Mrs. Meir remained in the Foreign Ministry. Zalman Aranne, the Minister of Education, may drop out of the Cabinet to accept election as Speaker of the Knesset. In that case, the education portfolio might go to Mr. Eban.
Among other Mapai leaders mentioned for Cabinet posts today were Gen. Moshe Dayan, Giora Josephtal, secretary-general of Mapai, and Yosef Almogi, chairman of the Haifa Labor Council, who directed the Mapai victory campaign. Mr. Almogi, was being mentioned for the post of secretary-general of the party in succession to Mr. Josephtal. Mordechai Namir, Minister of Labor, is expected to drop out of the Cabinet to take election as Mayor of Tel Aviv. Kadish Luz, Minister of Agriculture, wants to retire. Both are Mapai members.
PROGRESSIVES MAY HAVE DECIDING VOTE IN TEL AVIV MUNICIPALITY
The special election committee began this morning tabulation of the ballots which were cast by voters on active duty with the Armed Forces and until these tabulations are in, the exact composition of the new 120-man Knesset cannot be determined exactly. The final tallies and the exact distribution of seats may not be available for two or three days.
The General Zionist control of the Tel Aviv administration hung in the balance today and would not be settled until the soldiers’ votes were in. In any case it appeared that the single Progressive Party member in the new 31-man Municipal Council might have the deciding vote. If a Mapai-led combination takes over the municipal government, then the General Zionists would like a Cabinet post for their retiring mayor, Chaim Levanon.
The completed count in the Jerusalem municipal elections showed today that although Mapai ran far ahead of all other parties and won eight of the 21 seats in the Municipal Council, it will be unable to form an administration unless the unity of the religious parties is broken. Mapai’s only possible allies in the council are the Progressives and Achdut Avodah, each of which has one seat, and the combination would still be short of a majority.
The Herut Party won four seats, the Mizrachi parties and their Iraqi settlers affiliate, four, and the Agudist parties, three. If Jerusalem’s municipal politics follow their customary trend, the city administration will be in the hands of a Religious Bloc-Herut coalition.
Election procedure for the twin posts of Chief Rabbi will get underway next week with the formation of an eight-man committee to convene the 72-man electoral body, it was reported here today. The current five-year term for the posts expires on February 18.
Four members of the eight-man committee will be appointed by the Government and four by the Rabbinate. The 72-man body which will name the Chief Rabbis, will be composed of 24 representatives of the country’s municipalities and 48 appointees of the Rabbinate. The electors will vote for a successor to the late Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog, while the present Rishon Le Zion (Sephardi Chief Rabbi), Yitzhak Nissim, will be up for re-election.
The principal candidates to succeed Chief Rabbi Herzog are Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, of Boston, and the Chief Chaplain of the Armed Forces, Rabbi Shlomo Goren. Rabbi Soloveitchik has not yet revealed whether he would be a candidate.