TEL AVIV (Jul. 5)
Former Premier David Ben-Gurion today agreed to meet with a delegation of the Mapai Secretariat tomorrow, in connection with his decision to set up a separate list of candidates to the forthcoming November elections to Israel’s Parliament, as a result of his clash with Premier Levi Eshkol.
Sources close to the Mapai minority group led by Ben-Gurion said today that the meeting is merely a matter of “common courtesy” on the part of Mr. Ben-Gurion. They expressed doubt whether the former Fremier will agree to appear before the Secretariat or before a meeting of the Mapai’s central committee, which is scheduled to take place on Thursday.
The Mapai Secretariat earlier issued an appeal to Ben-Gurion to drop his plans to head an independent list of candidates to the elections. At a weekend meeting, the Secretariat reiterated a warning to Ben-Gurion and his followers that they could not remain in the party while running an independent slate, but failed to implement earlier warnings that the minority faction might be expelled from the party.
None of the minority members attended the Secretariat meeting. The Secretariat named a delegation to make the “last minute” appeal to the former Premier, despite mounting indications that the split was beyond healing. The delegation was instructed to invite the former Premier to the next meeting of the Secretariat for a free discussion of the party crisis.
ESHKOL SAYS HE IS READY FOR COMPROMISE, EXCEPT ON ‘LAVON AFFAIR’
Prime Minister Levi Eshkol declared here today that “in order to save the integrity of the Mapai, I am ready to compromise on any issue, except on the reopening of the inquiry into the Lavon Affair.” (The “affair” involves Pinhas Lavon. In 1955, he was dismissed from his post as Defense Minister, presumably due to a “security mishap”–never openly explained. A Ministerial committee absolved him of the security charges, but Mr. Ben-Gurion has insisted on a new inquiry.”)
Commenting on Mr. Eshkol’s statement, a spokesman of Ben-Gurion’s minority group said that Ben-Gurion’s decision to form a separate election list is “final.” Campaign headquarters, he states, will be established in Tel Aviv, where the minority group is renting 35 rooms in a new building. He also revealed that beginning next week, Ben-Gurion will publish a weekly magazine under the title “Tmurot” (Substitution.)
Meanwhile, a leading member of the minority faction, former Agriculture Minister Moshe Dayan, said he would not run for the next Knesset, presumably on either the majority or minority list. However, he stressed that he would not refrain from expressing his views on Israel’s problems.
Despite Dayan’s statement, informed observers said they believed he would eventually join the Ben-Gurion list. It was also reported that Gen. Yaacov Dori, former Technion president and Israel’s first Chief of Staff, also would join the Ben-Gurion list. The minority also reportedly planned to place Teddy Kollek, former director-general of the Premier’s office, on the head of the independent list for the Jerusalem Municipality elections.
The possibility that the two Mapai lists might come together after the forthcoming Israel general elections in November was suggested here today by Shimon Peres, the former Deputy Minister of Defense, in an interview broadcast by Kol Yisrael, the Israel radio.
Mr. Peres, an outspoken supporter of Ben-Gurion, said that he not consider the present situation a real split in Mapai but rather “a referendum, in the form of general elections, asking people what kind of Mapai they want.” He also confirmed reports that he had made every effort until the last minute to avoid the formation of separate election lists. “But,” he explained, “all our proposals were turned down flat by the majority.”
An abortive attempt to patch up the rift in Mapai ended in a fist fight last night as the Ben-Gurion supporters and the dominant Eshkol faction met in the port of Ashdod, near Tel Aviv. The fighting occurred after the two factions exchanged sharp insults. Police were called in to restore order.