TEL AVIV (Aug. 22)
Izhar Smilansky, an Israeli novelist and Mapai member of the Knesset, Israel’s Parliamont, announced today that he is formally resigning from Mapai, charging that the party has been revealed as “a spiritual and intellectual desert.” Mr. Smilansky was promptly dropped from the list of seven Ben-Gurion supporters, including former Premier David Ben-Gurion, being tried by the Mapai Court of Honor on the charge of setting up the dissident Israel Workers’ List, which will seek Knesset seats as an independent faction in the forthcoming general elections.
The pace of the Mapai court hearings, being held to determine whether or not the seven Ben-Gurion defendants should be formally expelled from the party, has been stepped up, due to a decision by the court not to hear prosecution witnesses, and to rely only on written evidence of the Ben-Gurion faction’s activities. The court also rejected a demand by lawyers for the break-away group that Premier Levi Eshkol, Foreign Minister Golda Meir and six other Mapai leaders be called as defense witnesses. Mr. Ben-Gurion, however, instructed his lawyer, Michael Caspi, to inform the court that he would appear as a witness for the defense.