JERUSALEM (Oct. 11)
Mapai leader Levi Eshkol, continuing his efforts to assemble a new coalition under his mandate from President Ben-Zvi, returned today to the approach of negotiating with one party at a time.
The Finance Minister held a three-hour parley with the Liberal party after several weeks of talks with the Club of Four yielded no results. The Club of Four was an informal alliance of the Liberals, the National Religious Party, Mapam and Achdut Avoda organized for the coalition bargaining. The four-party group issued a statement today conceding failure at efforts to create a broad five-party coalition with Mapai and placed the blame for the failure on Mapai.
The Liberal party negotiators presented to Mr. Eshkol their conditions for joining Mapai in a new Government. These dealt with distribution of portfolios in the next Cabinet and with Liberal part demands for nationalization of the health services and abolition of foreign exchange restrictions. Liberal party sources told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that the initial meeting with Eshkol had not indicated any Mapai readiness to meet those conditions. The Finance Minister promised the Liberal party an early reply and another meeting was set for tonight or tomorrow morning.
Even as Mapai-Liberal negotiations were resumed, divisions continued within the Liberal party on the talks, some elements favoring staying out of a coalition in preference to joining a narrow one. Majority Liberal opinion, however, was understood to favor continuing negotiations with Mapai on a tough line of no yielding on conditions.
BILL SEEKS TO LIMIT TIME FOR NEGOTIATIONS FOR NEW CABINET
Some members of Achdut Avoda were reported to be having second thoughts about the party stand of refusing to enter a small coalition, but there appeared little likelihood of the party breaking away from the politically like-minded Mapam to start separate negotiations with Mapai. The Mapam attitude was reported to be simply not to take any initiative for the time being.
Meanwhile, six parties in Israel’s Parliament submitted a bill today which would limit the period in which a Premier-designate could negotiate for a new Government. The measure–backed by Herut, the Liberals, Mapam, Agudas Israel, Achdut Avoda and the National Religious Party–provides that if a Premier-Designate fails to form a Cabinet within two weeks after accepting a mandate, the President would be required to ask another Knesset member to undertake the task. The President, under the bill, could extend the negotiation period to 45 days if the Premier-Designate was able to report progress in negotiations.
Another bill introduced in the Knesset with the support of the same six parties calls for establishment of a Government authority with jurisdiction over the state radio and the central information office. Both are now in the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s office.