TEL AVIV (Jul. 12)
The Central Committee of the Mapai Party voted overwhelmingly here at a meeting that concluded early this morning to expel from the party any member who would lend support “direct or indirect” to an independent list that might be formed for next fall’s national elections. Thus the party’s legal groundwork was set for the expulsion of former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and his followers, even while this group announced that it is continuing preparations for announcing its separate election list within the next few days.
The vote for expulsion of intransigent members was carried by an overwhelming ballot of 213 to 9, with 29 abstentions. Before voting expulsion, the Central Committee considered a resolution calling for a special Mapai convention to debate the entire issue posed by Mr. Ben-Gurion’s decision to fight the party policies held by the majority, which backs Prime Minister Levi Eshkol. Mr. Ben Gurion and his followers had demanded such a special convention. That motion was defeated by a vote of 202-54.
Immediately after the meeting, Reuven Barkatt, secretary-general of the party, still held out a wreath of peace in the hope of averting an open party split. “Though I am not relying on anything factual,” he said, “I still hope the split is not final.” But with the Central Committee’s stand a matter of record, actual steps for the expulsion of Mr. Ben-Gurion and his followers are now expected to be undertaken in the next few days.
At the same time, however, the Ben-Gurion faction was not only preparing to announce a separate list in the elections to the Knesset (Parliament), but many of its members were also pressing for the formation of separate, independent lists in local elections and in the elections to be held soon by Histadrut, the Israel federation of labor.
In its final resolution on expulsion, the Central Committee reiterated its old stand to the effect that formation of local and national lists outside the party without the party’s consent constituted “a direct breach of the party’s constitution.” It held that such separate action is tantamount to “an act of party division.” It declared that anyone giving support to such an unauthorized, separate list would automatically forfeit his right to remain within the organization framework of Mapai or to represent the party. It appealed to Mr. Ben-Gurion “to recognize the special responsibility which he bears now” and to refrain from pursuing his plan for the establishment of a separate election list. It asked him “to return to the ranks of the party.”