TEL AVIV (Feb. 2)
A group of Mapai Cabinet Ministers and leaders of the party faction in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, met today with David Ben-Gurion at his vacation place near Tel Aviv and tried to persuade him to form a new Government. They reported that Mr,Ben-Gurion gave no reply.
Whether and when Premier Ben-Gurion will accept the task of forming a Government to replace the one he toppled Tuesday by resigning the Premiership was reported to depend on what the Mapai central committee will do at its meeting Saturday about Pinnas Lavon, the Histadrut secretary-general. Mr. Ben-Gurion would like to see Mr. Lavon ousted from his post.
Efforts were being directed today toward achieving a showdown at the Saturday meeting on the issue but the pro-Lavon and anti-Lavon alignments were not clear. Some opposed to the Histadrut leader were understood to hope that Premier Ben-Gurion’s resignation would force the Mapai central committee to take a stand on Lavon compelling him to resign his Histadrut post and thus satisfy Mr.Ben-Gurion and open the way for him to form a new Government.
This faction brought Finance Minister Levi Eshkol, a moderate in the Ben-Gurion–Lavon battle, under very heavy pressure but it was understood that the Finance Minister declined to commit himself to the anti-Lavon group.
A meeting of the Mapai secretariat yesterday, which had the task of working out a compromise for presentation to the Mapai meeting Saturday, was marked by a sharp exchange between Lavon and three Mapai members of the Histadrut central committee, Mrs.Yehudit Simhonit, Zev Onn and Yitzhak Haskin,The three sharply criticized Lavon and demanded that he resign. Lavon replied vigorously and with some personal criticism of the three for which he was forced to apologize.
The left-wing Mapam meanwhile today called on Mapai to form a new Government with the same component parties but it also asked Mapai not to purge Lavon, The Progressive party was reported more reserved about the idea. Justice Minister Pinhas Rosen of the Progressives, who headed the Ministerial committee which cleared Lavon, still reportedly regarded Ben-Gurion’s denunciation of the Ministerial committee as a personal insult.
The right-wing Herut sent a message to its leader, Menahem Beigin,who is now touring the United States and Canada.Beigin canceled 14 lectures in the United States to return to Israel because of the political crisis.