Dissension Growing in Israel Labor Ranks over New Economic Policy

Israel’s Finance Minister, Levi Eshkol, left for Europe today to meet with leaders of Common Market nations on the possibility of securing affiliation for Israel with the European Common Market. Such affiliation is highly important for Israel’s economy. Mr. Eshkol will make his first stop in Brussels, where he will meet with Belgian Foreign Minister Paul Henri-Spaak. From there he will proceed next week to Paris to discuss Israel’s participation in the Common Market with leaders of the French Government.

Meanwhile, it was announced today that the central committee of the Mapai party, the dominant party in Israel, will meet tomorrow for the second time this week amid indications of growing dissension within the party leadership over implementation of the Government’s new economic policy.

At the first meeting held in Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s Jerusalem office. Mr. Eshkol was reported to have warned his party colleagues that unless the party and the Histadrur, Israel’s Mapai-dominated Labor Federation, fully backed the new policy, there would be trouble.

He said the party and the fession must display a firm stand against partisan pressures, instead of the current situation in which each grouping–representing farmers, industrial workers, urban labor councils–was pressing “its own narrow interests” and not considering the country’s economy as a whole.

He warned specifically against any action to increase the cost-of-living allowance now instead of waiting until July, the fixed date for adjustments in the cost-of-living index to which allowances were linked.

Sharp criticism was aimed at Achdut Avodah, a coalition partner, which voted for the new policy in Israel’s Parliament, but which, it was charged at the meeting, was actually. Joining with the opposition in obstructing its implementation. The left-wing party had publicly demanded, shortly after devaluation was announced last February 9, that such allowances be immediately increased for workers.

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