JERUSALEM (Feb. 22)
Efforts by leaders of the National Religious Party to induce other former coalition partners to rejoin a new coalition under Ben-Gurion’s Premiership were reported today to have had no success.
Moshe Shapiro and Dr. Joseph Burg, two NRP leaders, met with leaders of the Mapam and the Progressive party. They reiterated Mr. Ben-Gurion’s arguments that both security needs and the political situation made necessary a wide, rather than a small coalition, and the avoidance of new general elections.
Both Mapam and Progressive party leaders told the two religious leaders that there was no change in their position that they were ready to join a new coalition with Mr. Ben-Gurion’s Mapai Party provided Mr. Ben-Gurion was not the Prime Minister. They added that the security considerations currently cited by Mr. Ben-Gurion should have prevented him from creating a Cabinet crisis in the first place.
Meanwhile, considerable opposition was developing within the Mapai against any far-reaching concessions to the Religious party to obtain their participation in a small coalition. In a move to prepare itself for the eventuality of general elections, the Mapai secretariat called on all local branches today to suspend routine activities and concentrate on inspecting voters registers to see that all party members are eligible to participate in an election.