TEL AVIV (Jun. 17)
Former Premier David Ben-Gurion’s call yesterday to his followers in the Mapai party to leave the party and set up a separate list for the forth-coming Parliamentary elections provoked stormy reaction today both in the party and in the nation.
Premier Levi Eshkol’s majority leaders promptly replied that “the majority will not be dictated to by a minority” in the expanding leadership battle. They hinted that the majority would reject a minority proposal for convening of another party convention within two weeks. They insisted that the decision adopted previously by a majority vote at the annual convention last February was binding on all factions in the party and hence there was no need for another party convention.
It was reported that the minority group had decided to wait two weeks for a majority approach–until July 1–and that if by then no solution had been found to the leadership crisis, Ben-Gurion’s backers would come to the public with a separate and independent list of candidates for the forth coming Knesset elections.
In another political development, the tiny Israeli Communist party also faced a split today. One faction, which is pro-Israel, is headed by Samuel Mikunis and Moshe Sach. The other is more pro-Arab and more extremist and is headed by A. Wilner and Toufik Tubi. Each faction has called a “general convention,” one in Haifa and one in Tel Aviv, on June 23.
Each faction was busy trying to persuade delegates of overseas Communist parties, invited to Israel for the occasion, to attend their convention. The larger branches of the party in Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Jerusalem and Jaffa support the pro-Jewish faction. Communists in Israel’s Arab sections support the Wilner-Tubi group.