JERUSALEM (Feb. 12)
Slow progress was being made today in the efforts to form a new Cabinet. The situation was aggravated by the fact that the Mapai party insists that David Ben-Gurion should be the only person to be invited by President Izhak Ben-Zvi to form the new Government, while three of the other coalition parties–the Progressives, Mapam and Achdut Avodah–have made it known that they will not join a Cabinet headed by Mr. Ben-Gurion,
As the situation stands, it was predicted today that Mapai will seek the formation of a “small coalition” without Mapam and Achdut Avodah. At the same time, Mapai leaders were still hopeful today on the outcome of their negotiations with the Progressive party. The General Zionist party and Herut are in favor of new general elections.
At a press conference today, Menachem Beigin, Herut leader, said that his party favors early elections “not because of the government crisis but because of the moral crisis in the nation which resulted from the revelations of the Lavon affair and the handling of the Lavon issue. “
Newspapers supporting Ben-Gurion today said that there are good chances for a “narrow coalition government” under Ben-Gurion’s premiership. Such, a coalition, they stated, would be composed of Mapai, the National Religious party, Agudah Laborites and Arab minority parties. It would command a total of 67 votes of the 120 votes in Israel’s Parliament.
Observers here pointed out that even if Mr. Ben-Gurion succeeds in the formation of such a narrow coalition, his majority would be so slim–and practically dependent on the Arab votes–that it would make almost certain the necessity of new elections soon.
Meanwhile it was reported today that Mr. Ben-Gurion, if called on to form a Cabinet by President Ben-Zvi after the latter completes his round of talks with leaders of all political parties on Tuesday, will set himself a time limit until next Sunday, If he fails by that time to form a new coalition government, he would advise the President to entrust the formation of the Cabinet to another person.
Mapai leaders asserted today that separation of administrative and judicial authority was the goal Ben-Gurion sought to uphold in his rejection of a report by a Ministerial Committee last December 25 which exonerated Pinhas Lavon from responsibility for a 1954 security failure.
The leaders said it was not the findings of the Ministerial Committee to which Mr.Ben-Gurion objected but rather to the principle allegedly violated in the report. They argued that just as the Ministerial Committee actually acquitted a person–Mr. Lavon–so it could actually have condemned one and that this constituted a danger to democracy, which Mr. Ben-Gurion cherished. They added that Mr. Lavon’s dismissal had been carried out in “a most democratic way. “