Eshkol Scores Victory in National Elections in Israel; Thanks Nation

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol emerged victorious today in the national elections to Israel’s Parliament in which former Premier David Ben Gurion challenged Mr. Eshkol’s Mapai Party by forming a splinter party known as Rafi, the Israel Workers List.

Preliminary results of the elections from most of the 3,100 polling stations indicated today that the Mapai Party and its ally, the Achdut Avodah, will have between 42 and 44 of the 120 seats in Knesset, the Parliament. (The two parties held 41 seats in the outgoing Knesset.) Ben-Gurion’s Rafi Party may have 10 seats; the Herut-Liberal bloc, called Gahal, may maintain its 26 seats; the Religious bloc, 16 seats; the leftist Mapam Party and the Communists will probably lose some of their seats in the new Knesset. Election officials said 82 percent of the 1,500,000 eligible voters cast their ballots.

Premier Eshkol expressed thanks to the nation “for the confidence expressed in us, The Mapai-Achdut alignment will continue as the backbone of the government. The results show that the nation objects to splits,” he said. Shimon Peres, who resigned as Deputy Defense Minister to take a leading role in the Rafi challenge, said only that Rafi regarded the results “as the beginning of the way in which we will have to make great efforts.”

Premier Eshkol was expected to move quickly in a bid for a narrow coalition with the National Religious Party, the Independent Liberals and the Mapai-affiliated Arab parties. Later, it was indicated, he might try to expand such a coalition by persuading either Mapam to join or by re-uniting Rafi with Mapai. The latter move was assumed to be contingent on Mr. Ben-Gurion’s retirement from politics.

What the election results seemed fundamentally to prove was that Israel’s electorate, enjoying prosperity despite inflation, was unwilling to experiment with new rulers, or at least with the alternative posed by the Herut-Liberal combination or Rafi.

JERUSALEM, TEL AVIV AND HAIFA MAY RETAIN THEIR MAYORS

Israel’s three major cities were expected to continue under present mayors — Mordecai Ish Shalom in Jerusalem, Abba Khoushi in Haifa and Mordecai Namir in Tel Aviv — despite losses by their parties in the local elections. Mayor Khoushi, was actually assured of re-election even before the balloting. Mayor Namir was only slightly ahead of Herut’s Stern but appeared to have a better chance to form a municipal coalition.

The most uncertain situation was in Jerusalem, where Mayor Ish Shalom’s alignment faces competition from Teddy Kollek, who headed the Rafi municipal list, as well as the religious parties and Gahal. Ish Shalom was considered as having a chance to form a coalition with the religious parties and some of the smaller ones.

Israelis noted with satisfaction that parties appealing to ethnic or country-of-origin sentiments had failed to prove attractive to the voters.

With the count of the record vote virtually completed, Premier Eshkol’s Mapai-Achdut Avodah alignment bloc received 36 percent of the vote. This was almost twice as much as the 19.5 per cent received by the Gahal bloc composed of the right-wing Herut and some Liberals. Mr. Ben-Gurion’s splinter Israel Workers List received 8.2 percent of the vote, well below pre-election forecasts.

The three religious parties — Mizrachi-Hapoel Hamiarachi, Agudat Israel and Peale Agudat Israel — went down slightly, compared with the Fifth Knesset voting in 1961. The National Religious Party won 9.6 percent, Agudat Israel 3.3 percent and Peale Agudat Israel 1.9 percent for a total for the religious parties of 14.8 percent, compared with a total of 15.5 percent previously.

Mapam was running slightly behind its previous total — 7.1 this year compared with 7.5 previously. The split Communist Party received slightly fewer votes — a total of 3.8 percent — compared to 4.1 percent for the unified party previously. The Toubi Arab Communist faction collected 2.9 percent and the more “moderate” Sneh faction received 9 percent. The pro-Alignment Arab bloc received 2.5 percent, which will go to Premier Eshkol’s political assets.

NEXT STORY