TEL AVIV (Apr. 5)
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, speaking at the first national election rally of leaders of his Mapai party, said today that the present tranquility on Israel’s borders was “illusory” and he warned against complacency about Israel’s security problems.
The meeting was one of a series of party gatherings at the start of a campaign which will end with general elections on August 15 for a new Government to replace the one Mr. Ben-Gurion ended by resigning last January 31.
Speaking as Israel’s Minister of Defense, Mr. Ben-Gurion said that the United Arab Republic was continuing to get large quantities of modern arms from “one nation,” and that hundreds of instructors were in Egypt and Syria to train troops in the two parts of the UAR in the use of the weapons. His reference was presumed to be to the Soviet Union as the supplier of both the weapons and the instructors.
He told the meeting at the Mann Auditorium that there were two ways for Israel to preserve the peace, one being internal strengthening of the nation, and the other expansion of friendships with Asian and African nations while not neglecting “friends in the West.”
The meeting was the first at which general lines were laid down for the Mapai party’s election campaign. Mr. Ben-Gurion spoke again on what he termed the need for regional elections to avert the danger to democracy of too many splinter parties.
The council of the Mapam party also met today and heard its general secretary, Meir Yaari, speak on the ouster by Mr. Ben-Gurion of Pinhas Lavon as Histadrut secretary-general as an indication of “danger to Israelis democracy.” He charged the ouster of Mr. Lavon was “only a forward to the ousting of Mapam and Achdut Avodah from the coalition.” He expressed regret that Achdut Avodah had turned down Mapam’s proposal for a unified list for the election.
The deliberations of the Herut party convention continued today with leader Menahem Beigin proposing that the chairman of the party be elected for one term only, that is, from one national election to another to encourage introduction of “new blood into party leadership.” Aryeh Altmann, a Herut Knesset member, created something of a sensation when he told the convention that he did not think his party could attain leadership of the nation and suggested that the party should join Mapai in demanding regional elections.