JERUSALEM (Dec. 1)
Mrs. Golda Meir has agreed to continue in the next coalition Government as Israel’s Foreign Minister after repeated refusals, it was learned authoritatively today.
Mrs. Meir’s agreement followed assurances from Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion that there would be no interference in areas of her authority as Foreign Minister by any other Minister or top official. It was reported that Mrs. Meir had repeatedly complained about activities of the Defense Ministry as tantamount to usurpation of the Foreign Ministry’s authority.
She was now assured that no Cabinet member other than she and the Prime Minister would be permitted to make foreign policy statements and that no decisions in fields relating to foreign affairs would be taken without her approval.
It was also reported that Abba Eban, former Israel Ambassador to the United States who had been scheduled to take the post if Mrs. Meir had remained adamant in refusing it, will become a Minister without portfolio. Mr. Eban had been considered for the Ministry of Education but Mapai sources indicated they believed that Zalman Aranne also would change his mind and continue as Minister of Education.
A possibility emerged from negotiations today that the tiny Progressive party would Join with Prime Minister Ben-Gurion’s Mapai party to enable the Prime Minister to present a “narrow coalition” to the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, next week while continuing talks for a broader coalition.
Mapai and the Mapai-affiliated Arab parties, plus the Progressives have 58 seats in the 120-member Knesset, three short of a majority. However, the six deputies of the ultra-Orthodox Agudas Israel have been instructed by their rabbinical leaders to abstain during the required Knesset vote of confidence for a new government. The projected “narrow” coalition would thus have a slim majority of the other 114 votes.
The Prime Minister, it was understood, would leave several Cabinet portfolios open for the anticipated additional coalition partners. It was presumed that he wanted a coalition, even so small a one, on the premise that talks with the other parties will be lengthy and that a coalition would strengthen his hand in negotiating with the Mapam and Achdut Avodah and the National Religious party and perhaps accelerate their Joining.