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Ben-gurion Calls for Split; Says Mapai No Longer Fit to Head Nation

Former Premier David Ben-Gurion urged his backers in the Mapai party tonight to leave it and form an independent list for the forthcoming Parliamentary elections. Carrying his leadership struggle against Premier Levi Eshkol to a new climax, the former Premier said that the Mapai was “no more the party fit to lead the nation.”

He insisted repeatedly that his challenge did not mean a split in the strife-ridden party but added that those “loyal to justice and freedom” should leave it. This would constitute, he argued, not a split but a “purification.” Referring to a recent meeting of the Mapai Central Committee which rejected his bid to both lead the list and to be the next Premier, he declared that it would not be the party center, but the nation, who would decide on the country’s next Premier.

“The question is not one of splitting or not splitting,” he told his supporters, “but whether to follow moral deterioration or remain loyal to the factor of truth and justice and struggle to uproot lies. We come to the nation with proposals to change the present election system and bettering the standards of the workers of the nation.”

Josef Almogi, a Mapai leader who quit the Cabinet recently as Housing Minister in the broiling leadership battle, said the Ben-Gurion minority would wait one week for any initiative from the majority in response to Ben-Gurion’s challenge.

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