JERUSALEM (Jun. 18)
President Shazar today started talks with delegations from political parties in Israel for the formation of a new Cabinet following the announcement by David Ben-Gurion last night that he withdraws his resignation as a member of Parliament but is not withdrawing his resignation as Prime Minister.
The President was expected to entrust the formation of a new Cabinet to Finance Minister Levi Eshkol whose nomination as Premier-designate was confirmed last night by the secretariat of the Mapai party of which he is a leader. The way appeared open for the quick formation of a new Cabinet which may be presented to the Knesset next Monday with the existing coalition partnerships remaining status quo.
Ben-Gurion’s whose surprise resignations rocked Israel Sunday, withdrew his resignation from Parliament following strong representations from veteran Mapai leaders who called on him twice yesterday. They stressed that his resignation from the Knesset, the Israel Parliament, could be interpreted as a complete withdrawal from public life and as a contradiction with his declared intention of participating actively in talks to unify Israel’s labor parties and other aspects of public life.
The party leaders also told him that the resignation could be interpreted as a slight to the Knesset which Ben-Gurion declared was not his intention. He also told the party leaders that he did not mean his resignation from the Knesset to indicate a renunciation of confidence in the voters who had cast ballots for him.
During the two meetings, Ben-Gurion again assured the Mapai leaders that his decision to resign from Premiership was not the result of any specific event and that he had in fact during the past year indicated on several occasions to the inner leadership circle his intention to resign. He said that each time he was ready to do so, pressure had been exerted on him and that for this reason, he could effect his intention only by keeping it secret until the last moment and presenting it as an accomplished fact.
POST OF DEFENSE MINISTER BECOMES AN ISSUE IN MAPAI TALKS
In the unfolding Cabinet formation, the future of the Defense and Finance portfolios developed as the principal issue in Mapai leadership talks. There was general support for Eshkol holding the Defense Ministry as well as the Premier’s post and thereby avoid complications likely to develop from naming a new Defense Ministry.
Deputy Defense Minister Shimon Peres was understood as unlikely to stay in that post under any Defense Minister other than Eshkol, but Peres’ promotion to the Defense Ministry appeared certain to meet with opposition within his party as well as the possible resignation of Moshe Dayan, Minister of Agriculture, a leading Mapai figure. The Achdut Avodah is also opposed to Mr. Peres.