JERUSALEM (Aug. 30)
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion will be requested by President Ben-Zvi to undertake the task of forming a new Government after the convening of the newly elected Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, on Monday, it was learned here today.
The Prime Minister has refrained from indicating any preferences among the possible partners for his Mapai party in his next coalition, but there have been considerable informal contacts among the various parties in anticipation of the formal negotiations to come.
Mapai feelers among prospective coalition partners were reported today to have indicated a demand for a coalition much wider than that required simply for a merely comfortable majority of the 120 Knesset seats.
Neither the three religious parties, nor the two leftist parties–Mapam and Achdut Avodah–who together with Mapai could muster 64 and 63 of the 120 seats, would feel comfortable in a narrow coalition with Mapai, their leaders have indicated. Those leaders have said openly that the “national interest” demands a government with the widest possible base.
The new Liberal party, which netted 17 seats–three more than the total of seats held by the Progressives and General Zionists which joined to create the new party–figured actively in the inter-party soundings. The new party was expected to have a leading role if a wide coalition is established. In addition to the traditional Justice Ministry, the Liberal party might be wooed with an offer of the Ministry of Education or even of Foreign Affairs, it was reported.
However, there is strong pressure within Mapai against any yielding on the principle of an absolute Mapai majority in any new government. One school of thought was reported to favor a strategy of courting the leftists and Liberal party at the expense of the religious groups who would be left out of the projected coalition, while another Mapai group favors dropping the Liberal party. The latter Mapai group has recommended that the much-disputed. Ministry for Religious Affairs should go to a non-party neutral personality.