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Mapai Forms Parliamentary Bloc with Poale Agudah, Arab Knesset Members

A parliamentary bloc in Israel’s new Knesset has been formed here by the Mapai party, the ultra-Orthodox Poale Agudah labor faction, and four pro-Mapai Arab members of the Knesset, it was announced by Mapai leaders here today. The announcement was made by Finance Minister Levi Eshkol, Mapai political leader Yosef Almogi and Shimon Peres, deputy Defense Minister, who reported formation of the bloc to Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.

The newly formed bloc has a total of 48 seats in the Knesset, as against an aggregate of 46 seats held by the “Club of Four” parties–the Liberals, Mapam, National Religious Party and Achdut Avodah.

Optimism in regard to formation of the new Government by Mr. Eshkol was expressed in some Mapai circles after formation of this bloc. Until now, some Mapai quarters were gloomy concerning Mr. Eshkol’s chances for building a new coalition Government. However, representatives of the “Club of Four” parties indicated they believed it was still too early for Mapai optimism. They insisted on pointing out that, even with the new bloc acting in concert, Mapai will still lack a majority in the Knesset. They insist on some legal modifications, limiting the powers of Mapai, although it is the leading party in the number of members of Parliament.

All negotiations for the formation of the new Government were suspended today, and will be resumed after Yom Kippur.

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