JERUSALEM (Dec. 16)
Leaders of all coalition parties today expressed hope that Levi Eshkol will be able to form a new Government. He resigned as Premier Monday night as a result of the dispute between him and former Premier David Ben-Gurion over the 10-year-old Lavon Affair.
President Shazar will begin receiving Friday the heads of the various political parties for consultations on steps to be taken for the formation of a new Cabinet. It is anticipated that Mapai and the National Religious Party will propose that he entrust Mr. Eshkol with the task of forming the new Government.
The Secretariat of the Mapai Party will meet tonight to reach a formal decision on the proposal to President Shazar. All indications point to a decision in favor of giving Mr. Eshkol the mandate to undertake the formation of the Cabinet. Especially indicative is the speech delivered last night in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, by Moshe Dayan, who resigned recently as Agriculture Minister in protest against Mr. Eshkol’s policies.
Gen. Dayan, who is one of the staunchest supporters of Mr. Ben-Gurion, hinted in his Knesset speech that Ben-Gurion’s supporters do not intend to start a battle to keep Mr. Eshkol from forming a new Government. He said that Mr. Eshkol had the right to oppose Ben-Gurion’s demand for a new inquiry into the Lavon case without having to resign.
BEN-GURION SAYS HE WILL CONTINUE THE FIGHT; PUBLISHES LETTER
In a letter published today, which commented on the resignation of Mr. Eshkol, Mr. Ben-Gurion insisted he would continue his fight even if he had to do so “alone and isolated.” In the letter, Mr. Ben-Gurion quoted from his address to the Knesset after the formation of a new Government in 1961, during which he said he did not consider the Lavon Affair closed.
The fact that Mr. Ben-Gurion had not changed his mind in the slightest as a result of the resignation was confirmed in talks between Mr. Ben-Gurion and a number of Mapai leaders; However, it appeared that Mr. Ben-Gurion would probably wait until the Mapai convention in January to resume his fight. The developments within the Mapai party today, as well as the speeches by Mapai deputies in the Knesset yesterday, indicated that Mr. Eshkol’s resignation had postponed but not solved the party’s internal crisis over the Lavon Affair.
In a related development, the Knesset rejected today Herut and Communist motions to debate the prerogatives of the Attorney General. That issue arose when opposition parties charged that Attorney General Moshe Ben Zeev had exceeded those prerogatives in giving a ruling that a new inquiry into the 1954 security mishap, for which Mr. Ben-Gurion holds Mr. Lavon responsible, was in order. The Knesset vote came after Justice Minister Dov Joseph called the charges against the Attorney General groundless and harmful. The Justice Minister said that the Attorney General had simply performed his duty in presenting a purely legal opinion.