Formation of New Israel Cabinet Expected Today; Ben-gurion Steps in

The formation of Israel’s new coalition Cabinet was anticipated today, but snags developed among the four negotiating parties which had tentatively agreed to form the new coalition. Hope was expressed that agreement may be reached by tomorrow. The four parties are Mapai, National Religious Party, Achdut Avodah and the Agudah Laborite Party.

The situation today brought personal action by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who stepped into negotiations concerning the personal nominations of members for the Cabinet. Mr. Ben-Gurion today received a delegation of the Sephardi community which demanded a Sephardi Minister in addition to Behor Shitreet, Minister of Police. The Prime Minister agreed, but the actual choice will have to be made by the Mapai special nominations committee.

Meanwhile, Moshe Dayan warned he would not enter into the new government if he could not retain the Ministry of Agriculture. He was proposed for the Ministry of Health and he rejected this post. In insisting on retaining the post of Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Dayan was supported today by a delegation of the Moshav movement to Mr. Ben-Gurion.

Mapai finally agreed to leave the Agriculture Ministry with Mr. Dayan. This in turn caused difficulties with Achdut Avodah which had demanded and had been promised the Agriculture portfolio and which rejected the Health, Justice or Development portfolios.

Representatives of the four negotiating parties met again today in an effort to reach complete agreement. The drafting of the final agreement also ran into delay because of Achdut opposition to the Religious Party demands, particularly for a national Sabbath law which would affect transport, sports events, entertainment and restaurant operations.

Meanwhile the Mapai central committee, which had scheduled a meeting yesterday, indicated it would meet toward the end of the week when it was hoped that final agreement would be approved, making it possible for Mr. Ben-Gurion to present a new Government at the beginning of next week.

The four-party coalition would rest on 68 of the 120 votes in the Israel Parliament. The observance of “voting discipline” in Parliament would thus be essential for the stability of the Government. However, the Achdut Avodah still wishes to assure its members freedom of voting on basic laws. The Mapai has 46 seats in the Parliament, including four Mapai Arabs; the National Religious Party has 12 seats; the Achdut Avodah has eight seats, and the Agudah Laborites have two.

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