JERUSALEM (Jan. 12)
In a slashing 5,000-word statement, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion today denounced Pinhas Lavon, Secretary-General of the Histadrut, in the latest development of the bitter dispute raging between the two Mapai leaders.
Using the strongest phraseology, the Prime Minister asserted that Mr. Lavon. as Israel’s Defense Minister in 1954, issued “adventurous orders” to two former Chiefs of Staff, Mordechai Makleff and Moshe Dayan. The Prime Minister added that, “fortunately, they understood the harm in such orders and persuaded Defense Minister Lavon to reverse them. “
The Prime Minister rejected all of Mr. Lavon’s charges against the defense forces arising out of the latter’s ouster as Defense Minister a year after a security mishap in 1954. (No further details on the statement reached the JTA in New York by the time this Bulletin went to press.)
A marathon 12-hour meeting of the Mapai secretariat ended in Tel Aviv at 4 a. m. today in a hopeless deadlock over efforts to find a solution to the crippling dispute between Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Histadrut Secretary-General Pinhas Lavon.
The meeting left unchanged the impasse created by Mr. Ben-Gurion’s warning that he would resign both as Prime Minister and Mapai party leader unless there was a reversal in a Cabinet vote of approval for a ministerial commission report which cleared Mr. Lavon of responsibility for the order which led to his forced ouster as Minister of Defense in 1955.
Debate at the session frequently became stormy. At 3:30 am. a vote was taken on two proposals. Eighteen members of the secretariat approved a proposal to call Mr. Lavon before a Mapai party inquiry commission. However, 18 other members gave their support to a proposal that the entire affair be aired before a party commission.
Moshe Sharett, former Prime Minister, made a dramatic speech in the debate in which he said there was no need for further discussion after the report of the ministerial commission and an earlier investigating committee. He strongly opposed any system of eliminations of any Mapai leaders and asked for retention of integrity and peace within the party. He agreed that Mr. Ben-Gurion should not resign but he felt, nevertheless, that there should be no “cult of personality” and he was sure that the Prime Minister shared this opinion.
Moshe Dayan, the Agriculture Minister, supported the strongest anti-Lavon position. Zalman Arrane, former Education Minister, as well as Trade Minister Pinhas Sapir, supported the more moderate proposal to give a party inquiry commission the widest possible latitude. The deadlock in the voting again placed the party in a position of uncertainty.