TEL AVIV (May. 18)
Former Premier David Ben-Gurion widened today the split between him and Premier Levi Eshkol with a public declaration that he would not vote for “Eshkol’s list” in the forthcoming national election because “Eshkol does not represent me.”
He also said, in a direct challenge to Premier Eshkol’s leadership of the Mapai Party, that if his ideas were accepted by the party and if he was asked to head the Government, he would regard it as his duty to comply with the request.
Mr. Ben-Gurion brought his differences with Premier Eshkol out into the open last week with a speech charging that the Premier was “unfit” to lead the party and the country. The Premier responded with a challenge to those Mapai Ministers who agreed with the former Premier to resign their posts.
Last night Mr. Ben-Gurion met with his followers and persuaded Housing and Development Minister Yosef Almogi and Deputy Defense Minister Shimon Peres “not to hurry” in tendering their resignations in reply to the Premier’s challenge. The Housing Minister agreed to postpone his resignation for a few days at the former Premier’s request. So did Mr. Peres.
The Ben-Gurion backers expressed objections to a decision of the Mapai Secretariat this week banning party branches from discussing the party list. They also protested against the Premier’s challenge to Ben-Gurion’s supporters to resign. The Mapai Party list provides two places for Achdut Avodah under a limited alignment between the two parties negotiated by Premier Eshkol and vehemently opposed by Mr. Ben-Gurion.