JERUSALEM (Sep. 5)
President Ben-Zvi opened formal consultations today with leaders of Israel’s political parties on the formation of a new Cabinet.
He met today with leaders of the Mapai, Herut, the Liberals and the National Religious party. He will meet with representatives of the eight other parties, including two Arab groups, tomorrow and during the rest of the week. He is expected to complete his first round of consultations before Rosh Hashanah in a bid to speed the formation of a new Government.
The Mapai deputation proposed to the President that Premier David Ben-Gurion be given the task of seeking to form a new Government. They interpreted the August 15 election results, which gave Mapai 42 of the 120 Parliamentary seats, as public support for a Mapai majority in the next Cabinet.
The Liberals argued that since the election had reduced by five the number of seats formerly held by Mapai, that party should forego its insistence on a majority in the next Cabinet. This position was taken by the Liberals at a meeting last night with Mapai negotiators, the first formal full scale meeting between the two parties to discuss a partnership in a new coalition under Mr. Ben-Gurion.
The Liberals argued further that Mapai should accept a parity status with other parties within the coalition with Mr. Ben-Gurion given a decisive vote in the event of a tie. This view was conveyed by the Liberals to President Ben-Zvi at the meeting today.
The Herut delegation asked the President to limit to 14 days the period in which the Premier-designate would have to form a new Government. The National Religious party told Mr. Ben-Zvi it favored the broadest possible coalition and intimated it was ready to participate in such a coalition under Mr. Ben-Gurion’s leadership.