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Eshkol Calls on Members of Ben-gurion’s Party to Return to Mapai

Elated over his victory in the Parliamentary elections, Premier Levi Eshkol today called upon the members of Rafi, the dissident party of former Premier David Ben-Gurion, to return to the ranks of the Mapai Party which they left as Ben-Gurion’s followers.

The call was made in a statement by Premier Eshkol, published in today’s issue of Davar, organ of Histadrut, Israel’s Federation of Labor, Mr. Eshkol emphasized that the results of the elections proved that the public in Israel considers the “Lavon Affair” and its aftermath dead issues and that Ben-Gurion’s Rafi Party should understand to draw the proper conclusions with regard to coming back into the Mapai ranks. The Lavon Affair was one of the major issues which resulted in Ben-Gurion’s seceding from the Mapai and forming his own party.

While the official results of the national elections will not be made public before Sunday, it became clear today that despite shifts in strength shown by the various political parties, the Israeli public is still divided into three distinct camps.

The labor parties will have approximately 64 seats, including the Knesset members elected by the Mapai-Achdut Avodah alignment, Mapam, and Rafi (the Ben-Gurion dissidents). The more conservative groups, including the General Zionists, Herut and Progressives, who had a total of 32 seats in the last Knesset, will hold 34 seats in the next parliament. Seventeen seats will go to the religious parties, which had 18 places in the last house.

30 NEW DEPUTIES ELECTED TO PARLIAMENT; ESHKOL SEEKS LARGE COALITION

However, there will be some important differences. Perhaps the most significant difference will lie in the fact that there will be so many new faces in the Knesset. Thirty of the members of the 120-member Knesset, a full 25 percent, will be newly-elected deputies, marking the largest turn-over in the history of the Knesset.

Premier Eshkol is expected to open unofficial negotiations next week with the National Religious Party, Mapam and the Independent Liberals for a coalition which would enjoy the support of more than 70 Knesset seats.

Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir, meanwhile, said today that, contrary to speculation that the Israel Government would devalue its currency after the elections, it was not planned to do so in the near or distant future. Foreign Minister Golda Meir denied reports today that she might resign after the elections. She said that she planned to stay in the post when a new Government is formed by Premier Eshkol.

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