Municipal Council of Beersheba, Capital of Negev, Faces Dissolution

A stiff fight among various political parties has practically immobilized the Municipal Council of Beersheba, the fast-growing “capital” of the Negev. Minister of the Interior Moshe Haim Shapiro warned the Beersheba Council today that, unless it is reactivated in the next few days, he will order the dissolution of the municipal body and will appoint a commission of civil servants to administer the city’s affairs.

The entire “Beersheba Scandal” came before Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, here today, with Herut moving a resolution for a Government inquiry commission to probe the political affairs at Beersheba. The motion was defeated and the Knesset voted instead to refer to a Parliamentary committee a proposal that new elections be held in Beersheba.

The fight started 13 months ago when Beersheba’s 15-member Municipal Council voted to oust Mayor David Touviyahu, a member of Mapai, putting in his place Zev Zarisi, a member of Mapam. Later. a member of the eight-member majority that voted this change joined the Mapai faction to help oust Mr. Zarisi. As of now, the Council is deadlocked, 7-7, between the two major factions. A 15th member, David Hacham, is “missing,” presumably hiding in a Mapam kibbutz, and the evenly divided council cannot break a tie without him.

The party argument appears to be directed toward splitting the city’s top offices, so that Mapai would have its Mayoralty candidate while Mapam would designate the Deputy Mayor.

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