TEL AVIV (Aug. 22)
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion was reported here today as having firmly indicated to the other leaders of his Mapai Party that he would not be willing to undertake the formation of a new coalition Cabinet if such a coalition were to include the Mapam and Achdut Avodah left-wing groups with whom he quarreled in the last Cabinet.
This, it was reported, is causing anxiety among some Mapai leaders who would wish to see a coalition government formed of Mapai, Mapam, Achdut Avodah and the Religious bloc. These leaders feel that the “labor partnership” in the former Cabinet should continue also in the Cabinet which is to be formed.
It was also reported today that Kadish Luz, speaker of the former Knesset, would decline nomination for election as Speaker of the fifth Knesset, when the new House is organized. In that case–and if the Liberal Party becomes a partner in the next coalition Government–Mapai may propose that the Speakership go to Dr. Pinhas Rosen, Minister of Justice in the outgoing Government, and a leader of the Liberals.
Mr. Rosen has reportedly said he would “not want to be included in any Government formed by Ben-Gurion.” He is still “angry” over Mr. Ben-Gurion’s refusal to accept a Ministerial Report, made to the last Government, clearing former Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon of responsibility for a security mishap in 1954. It was Mr. Ben-Gurion’s opposition to acceptance of that report that led, ultimately, to the resignation of the last Government and the subsequent Knesset elections.
The “Lavon Affair” came to the front again here today when an inquiry commission formed several months ago by university students belonging to Mapai made its report. That report has been ready for some time, but the members of the commission had pledged themselves not to make the report public until after the elections.
The students recommended in the report that Mr. Lavon, who had already been ousted from his latest position, as secretary general of Histadrut, be barred from public office” in view of his “part” in the 1954 security mishap. On the other hand, the 13-page report also voiced criticisms of Mr. Ben-Gurion for the manner in which he handled the Lavon case, and against Mapai secretary general Yosef Almogi “for failing to intervene in the early stages” of the Lavon affair.
LEFT-WING PARTIES PROPOSE COALITION OF ALL FORMER PARTNERS
Meanwhile, the Mapam and Achdut Avodah parties today continued their efforts to prevent the formation of a Mapai-dominated Cabinet. They are proposing that all former coalition partners draw up a “minimum coalition program” which they would present as a condition for joining the Government. Their proposals, as indicated by Achdut Avodah leaders, also aim at obtaining an undertaking from all four prospective partners to the coalition not to join any Cabinet separately.
The “minimum program” would call for the establishment of a National Defense Council to supervise the activities of the Defense Ministry. It would also demand Cabinet decisions on all important security or foreign policy issues. The left wing’s readiness to enter a coalition with the Liberals appears to be a shift in policy. Less than two years ago they made it a condition of their joining the Cabinet that the General Zionists not be invited to join.
The Liberals have promised their supporters that they would not join any government in which their influence is not strong mainly through control of important “key” portfolios such as Commerce and Industry of Finance. Some of the Liberal leaders, on the other hand, are speaking of remaining in “constructive” opposition since they do not believe they can obtain the necessary strength in the government.
Prime Minister Ben-Gurion is believed to incline towards a coalition with the National Religious Party and the Liberals, because of the general hostility of the left-wing parties in the last government and their pressing of the “Lavon affair.” Leaders of the Mapai-affiliated kibbutz movement, Ihud Hakibbutzim, on the other hand, are seeking the renewal of a labor coalition, which in their opinion would, help restore harmony both in the kibbutz movement and in the party as a whole.