Liberal Party Rejects Herut Proposal for Joint Parliamentary Bloc

The Liberal Party today turned down the proposal of the Herut Party for the formation of a Liberal-Herut parliamentary bloc in the next Knesset.

At a meeting that lasted several hours, last night, leaders of the Liberal Party and Liberals elected to the Knesset in the national elections, August 15, voted that formation of a bloc like the one proposed by Herut would be “a betrayal of the voters, who did not give us a mandate to enter into such a partnership.”

The vote to reject the Herut offer was almost unanimous. Only Moshe Nissim, a Liberal elected to the Knesset, voted in favor of the Herut proposal. Herut’s deputy chairman Arie Ben-Eliezer expressed “disappointment” on behalf of his party, asserting that Herut would continue to strive for formation of such a partnership. Such a bloc, he said, would be “the only alternative to Mapai.”

Meanwhile, there was still uncertainty today, even in Mapai Party circles, as to the intentions of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion about the formation of the next Government, Mapai is considering formation of a committee to negotiate with other parties on a possible coalition government. Some Mapai leaders favor returning to the coalition that prevailed in the last Government, but Mr. Ben-Gurion has not yet announced his position.

RELIGIOUS PARTY RECOMMENDS MAPAI MAJORITY IN NEW CABINET

A suggestion has been made by the National Religious Party that the next coalition be led by a 15-member Cabinet which would include eight portfolios for Mapai, three for the Liberals, two for the religious group, and one each for Mapam and Achdut Avodah.

Mapai Ministers in the outgoing Cabinet, as well as leaders of Histadrut, the Israel Federation of Labor, held a meeting here yesterday, but the final decision on plans for formation of the next Government was left to the party secretariat. The prevailing sentiment inside the party seems to be that a wide coalition should be formed, but that a majority of the portfolios be held by members of Mapai.

Observers here feel that Mapai’s insistence on a Cabinet majority may rule out a coalition in which both the Liberals and the left-wing parties will serve, due to the difficulties that would be encountered in the apportionment of Ministries. Some feel that the answer may lie in a Cabinet in which Mapai and the Opposition parties would have between them an equal number of portfolios–with Prime Minister Ben-Gurion having the decisive vote.

NEXT STORY