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Return of Lavon to Mapai Leadership Still Sought by Party Members

Renewed attention to the “Lavon Affair” spurred reports today that there were elements within the Mapai party that still expected that Pinhas Lavon, former Defense Minister and former secretary-general of the Histadrut, would eventually return to leadership in the party.

The issue was revived by reports that former Premier David Ben-Gurion still had hopes or re-opening the case, which involved the forced resignation of Mr. Lavon as Defense Minister in 1955 over a security mishap the year before. Mr. Lavon was cleared of responsibility by a Ministerial Committee in 1961, a finding which led Mr. Ben-Gurion to resign. Levi Eshkol, now Prime Minister, was a member of the committee.

The latest development concerned a hurried public statement by Reuven Barkat, Mapai general secretary, which expressed doubt that there was any Mapai member who seriously believed that Mr. Lavon would return to a leadership role. A Knesset deputy who is one of Mr. Lavon’s supporters, wrote a strong letter to Mr. Barkat, asking in whose name the statement was issued.

The deputy, whose name was not disclosed, declared in his letter that he was “convinced that there are many circles within Mapai who want peace restored in the party and who would like to see Lavon again within us actively. It is very regrettable for Mapai that we have reached the day when Barkat disqualifies Lavon, “the member of Knesset wrote.

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