JERUSALEM (Jan. 16)
A “truce of silence” was observed today by all sides involved in the conflict between Premier David Ben-Gurion and Histadrut leader Pinhas Lavon following the pledge given yesterday to President Izhak Ben-Zvi to refrain from any further public statements of any kind, while efforts are being made to settle the conflict. The climax is expected at a special meeting of the Israel Cabinet tomorrow evening.
While no further public utterances were being issued, two separate efforts to solve the crisis were being made today. A five-man special committee of the Cabinet was working on a statement which they will introduce to the emergency meeting of the entire Cabinet tomorrow night. At the same time, leaders of the Mapai party were preparing to select a committee of five to seven members of their party to probe into the entire matter involving Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and former Minister of Defense Pinhas Lavon.
Mapai’s central committee voted in favor of selecting such a committee, after adopting a resolution which, like President Ben-Zvi’s demand, requested all parties to observe “a truce of silence” by refraining from further public airing of the arguments. Mapai requested both Mr. Ben-Gurion and Mr. Lavon not to resign their posts. Mr. Lavon is secretary-general of Histadrut, Israel’s Federation of Labor.
The Cabinet committee preparing a statement for tomorrow night’s emergency meeting hopes to get agreement from all sides to a view which is a compromise on Mr. Ben-Gurion’s criticism of a previous seven-man Cabinet committee which absolved Mr. Lavon of responsibility for a 1954 “security mishap.” The new statement would point out that Mr. Ben-Gurion was only criticizing the old committee’s procedures, but was not impugning the intergrity of the members of the committee.
NON-MAPAI PARTIES DEMAND BEN-GURION TO RETRACT CHARGES
Mr. Lavon had, earlier, threatened to issue a public statement today, replying sharply to Mr. Ben-Gurion’s accusations against him. Ex-Premier Moshe Sharett, who headed the Government at the time Mr. Lavon resigned from the Defense Ministry in 1955, met with Mr. Lavon today, presumably to get him to agree to keep the “truce of silence” and not to aggravate the situation any further.
Meanwhile, the central committees of four coalition parties which are not directly involved in the dispute between Mr. Ben-Gurion and Mr. Lavon, met today and demanded that the Prime Minister retract his charges against the seven-man Cabinet committee which absolved Mr. Lavon last month of responsibility for the 1954 “security mishap.”
In its statement, the-executive of the National Religious party rejected the Premier’s allegation that the seven-man Ministerial Committee, which was comprised of members of six parties, including Mapai, had “adopted prejudicial procedures.” Unless the Premier withdrew his statement, in which he had accused the seven-member committee of procedures that allegedly “led to half-truths and distortions,” the National Religious party threatened it would insist that the entire Government resign.
Resolutions of a similar nature were adopted by the leadership caucuses of the three other parties that met today–Mapam, Ahdut Ha’avoda and the Progressive party. Thus the lines to be followed at tomorrow night’s emergency Cabinet meeting were spelled out on behalf of these four coalition partners.