TEL AVIV (Dec. 15)
The 40th anniversary celebration of Histadrut, Israel’s. Labor Federation, was marred last night by the absence of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and other prominent Mapai leaders in an echo of the dispute over the Lavon affair. The Prime Minister ignored two invitations sent him by Pinhas Lavon, secretary-general of the Histadrut.
The Prime Minister’s deliberate absence was the main topic of lobby conversation Just before the mass rally opened in the Mann Auditorium. The massing of flags and the spectacle of the 100-member Tel Aviv Labor Council choir in oriental uniforms failed to divert attention from the Prime Minister’s non-attendance.
President Ben-Zvi, who is also a Mapai veteran, was enthusiastically applauded when he entered the hall which was filled except for seats in the front rows which had been set aside for the absentees. The President also received great applause when he spoke on Mr. Ben-Gurion’s role in establishing the Histadrut.
The Prime Minister’s decision not to attend was regarded here as marking a turn for the worse in relations between him and Lavon, who was forced to resign in 1955 as Defense Minister because of a security mishap in 1954 for which Lavon insisted he had no responsibility. As a result of new investigations opened by the Prime Minister under Lavon’s prodding, the Histadrut leader has declared himself vindicated but left a situation which has created a rift in the Mapai party.
Recent statements by Lavon interpreted as criticism of the Prime Minister and the matter of the invitation to the Prime Minister to attend the celebration will be raised at a meeting tomorrow of the Mapai central secretariat. Several members asked that the two matters be placed on the meeting agenda.