TEL AVIV (May. 27)
The possibility of a split inside the Mapai Party between the majority favoring Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and the minority, lined up with ex-Premier David Ben-Gurion, was envisaged-but not predicted–last night by former Minister of Agriculture Moshe Dayan, an adherent of the Ben-Gurion group.
Addressing a rally by 3,000 members of the Mapai minority in a grove outside Natanya, Mr. Dayan said: “This is not a meeting to confirm a split. It is not a meeting to seek a split. But one should not go around with eyes closed to the possibility of a party split.”
The meeting adopted a resolution against breaking with Mapai but favoring a strong opposition to the present leader ship and seeking to reinstate Mr. Ben-Gurion as Prime Minister.
Mr. Ben-Gurion, addressing the meeting, told the group that the present political struggle is “concerned with the disintegration of the moral leader ship of the nation.” “Without this moral leadership,” he declared, “our future would be jeopardized.” Other speakers at the meeting included Shimon Peres, who resigned from his post as Deputy Minister of Defense in support of Mr. Ben-Gurion’s claim to leadership against Mr. Eshkol; Haifa Mayor Abba Khoushy; and Iznar Smilanski, a member of Israel’s Parliament, who delivered an address lauding Mr. Ben-Gurion.
When the meeting was concluded after midnight, the members of the Mapai minority had decided to fight from within the Mapai Party “but not to exclude the danger of a split.” The immediate aim of the group was said to be to press for a special convention of the party which will decide whether the next election is to be headed by Mr. Eshkol or by Mr. Ben-Gurion.
Meanwhile, the Mapai majority held its own meeting, at Kfar Hayarok. While no negotiations had been held between the two factions, the majority had agreed that Mr. Ben-Gurion could head the Mapai election list–provided it was understood that he would not assume the Premiership but leave the Government’s highest post to Mr. Eshkol.