Mapai to Withdraw from Formation of Cabinet if Efforts Fail by Friday

Finance Minister Levi Eshkel resumed negotiations on formation of a new Government under a time limit of one week set by the Mapai central committee.

Under his new instructions, Mr. Eshkol is to report to the committee on Friday on his efforts to obtain agreement on a new Cabinet with Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion continuing in that capacity. If he reports failure, the Mapai party will return Eshkol’s mandate to President Ben-Zvi who will then have to call on the leader of the second largest party, the Herut, to undertake the task.

Eshkol reported to the committee that negotiations with the “Club of Four”–Mapam, Achdut Avoda, the Liberals and the National Religious party–had not included the key issue of Mapai insistence on a majority in any new Cabinet and that no agreement on that issue appeared likely.

His report evoked additional Mapai opinion of opposition to the lagging negotiations. Meir Argov, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Israel’s Parliament, suggested that the Club of Four should be told to go ahead and try to form a government without Mapai. “Let’s see what they can do then,” he said. The central committee decided again that it would not give up the demand for a majority in the next Cabinet.

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