Eshkol Celebrates 70th Birthday with Vigorcus Election Speeches

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, who became 70 years of age today, began celebrating his birthday last night by campaigning vigorously for the election of the Mapai-Achdut Avoda state in the general elections to be held next Tuesday.

He addressed several street rallies, visited the Baka and Katamon districts of this city, populated chiefly by new immigrants, addressed crowds from the balconies of apartment houses in those areas, and entered homes where he shook hands with the residents and urged them to vote for the ticket which he heads. In one of the homes, he was presented with a large birthday cake.

Mr. Eshkol’s canvassing of the residential neighborhood was typical of the last stages of the long election campaign to be culminated at the polls, where the Israeli voters will choose 120 members of the next Knesset (Parliament). Many Israelis are frankly tired of the long campaign in which a new group, David Ben-Gurion’s Israel Workers List (Rafi) is challenging the Eshkol leadership of the Mapai-Ahdut Avoda alignment, while another group, Gahal, uniting Herut and the General Zionists, is contending for supremacy at the polls.

In most of his speeches, Mr. Eshkol urged the voters to give the Mapai-Ahdut Avoda alignment a plurality large enough to enable his group to form a coalition government “without making it necessary to give far-reaching concessions to minor parties.”

A group of Mapai veterans were disclosed today to have met with former Premier David Ben-Gurion in a bid to heal the party breach after the November 2 municipal and Parliamentary elections. The party leaders spoke with Ben-Gurion for more than an hour. At one point in the talks, one of the leaders proposed formation of a committee of three to arbitrate the dispute between Premier Eshkol and former Premier Ben-Gurion. To this Ben-Gurion reportedly commented “very well, but they should be judges.”

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