Ben-gurion Postpones Presentation of Cabinet Because of Illness
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Ben-gurion Postpones Presentation of Cabinet Because of Illness

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The final technicalities were completed tonight in the constitution of a new Israel Government coalition but Premier David Ben-Gurion, because of illness, will not be able to present his Cabinet to the Parliament for a confidence vote before Wednesday at the earliest.

The executive body of Mr. Ben-Gurion’s Mapai party, meeting tonight, formally ratified the terms of the coalition agreement under which the Progressive party and the National Religious party will form the new government with Mapai. The executive, in ratifying the agreement, expressed the hope that the two other labor parties, Mapam and Achdut Avodah, would also join the coalition. Mr. Ben-Gurion’s new government will command 71 votes out of 120 in the Knesset.

Mapai Party officials seized the opportunity provided by the enforced delay in presenting the new Cabinet to renew efforts to bring the other two labor parties into a united labor front. Prior negotiations with the two parties had broken down over the issue of collective responsibility. Mr. Ben-Gurion had insisted that all members of the Cabinet be bound by Cabinet decisions and had proposed a “discipline clause” as a condition for participation in the coalition.

This clause provided that a member of the Cabinet who votes against a Government measure must resign. To ensure this, Mr. Ben-Gurion demands legislation empowering the Cabinet majority to dismiss a minister who does not resign as a result of defection. The Premier wants to avoid any repetition of what happened last year when the representatives of the Mapam and Achdut Avodah in the Government and their party members in Parliament voted against the. Government on the German arms issue. When the ministers refused to resign, Mr. Ben-Gurion had to submit the resignation of his entire Cabinet.


The two labor parties, in the current coalition negotiations, flatly rejected the demand. In statements they issued separately, both took the position that they could not give up their position on certain questions such as Israeli-German relations and the question of military Government in areas of Israel and both opposed legislative proposals that would enable the Prime Minister to dismiss members of his cabinet without presenting a new Government to the Parliament for approval.

If the two leftist labor parties return to the Government, it will be with a different status from what they formerly enjoyed and without a stronghold they had held for years–the Ministry of the Interior. That post will go to Moshe Shapiro, leader of the National Religious party. Mr. Shapiro and his colleague Dr. Joseph Burg, resigned from the Government last year in the sharp conflict over the issue of “Who is a Jew?”

Now Mr. Shapirois slated to return to the Government to head the ministry which has jurisdiction and administration of the population registry in which nationality is listed. This is taken here as a certain sign that issue is dead and buried and that the regulations which created the furor will not be revived.

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