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Talks on Formation of Israel’s Cabinet Reach Their Climax Today

Disintegration was seen here today of the Club of Four–composed of the Liberal Party, the National Religious Party, the Mapam and Achdut Avodah–which is negotiating as a united front with the Mapai party of Premier David Ben-Gurion on the formation of a new Israeli Cabinet.

The break-up in the four-party united action was indicated by an ultimatum given to the Mapam and Achdut Avodah by the National Religious Party suggesting that the two left-wing groups should agree on the formation of a coalition Cabinet which would include the Herut, if they were really not eager to see a coalition Cabinet dominated by Mapai.

The leaders of the religious bloc made it clear to the two left-wing groups that should they not agree to a coalition either with Herut–which would mean a Cabinet without Mapai–or with Mapai, then the National Religious Party would seek to persuade the Liberal Party to form a “small coalition Cabinet” composed of Mapai, Liberals and the religious bloc.

Meanwhile, the interest of the people in Israel was centered today on the possible outcome of the last talks which Levi Eshkol, Firance Minister and Mapai leader, will hold tomorrow with the leaders of the Club of Four. Depending on the outcome of tomorrow’s talks will be whether a Cabinet should be formed by Mr. Eshkol on the mandate from President Izhak Ben-Zvi, or whether Mr. Eshkol would return his mandate to the President with a statement that he failed in the entrusted mission.

Should Mr. Eshkol report to the President that he was unable to reach an agreement on the formation of a Cabinet and was therefore returning his mandate, the President will then have to call upon the Herut Party to form the Cabinet. The Herut was second to the Mapai in the number of votes received in the Parliamentary elections last August 15.

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