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Eshkol’s Efforts to Form Israel Cabinet Meet with Difficulties

Initial moves by Finance Minister Levi Eshkol to carry out his mandate from President Ben-Zvi to form a new government apparently failed today to end the impasse over Mapai’s insistence on a majority of portfolios in any new Cabinet.

Mr. Eshkol, who undertook the mandate after Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion declined the task, started his talks by meeting with negotiators from Mapam, Achdut Avoda and the Liberal party.

Both Mapam and the Liberals told him Mapai must abandon its demands for a majority as a condition of their joining. The Liberals proposed to him formation of a coalition with the same parties as that of the prior Government. Mapam proposed a five-party Cabinet with distribution of portfolios in a way that Mapai would have to yield its majority status demand.

Representatives of the three parties met with the National Religious party to discuss the Finance Minister’s proposals and they agreed to notify him by letter that there was no point in his trying to form a new Government if Mapai continued to insist on a majority.

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