Eshkol Says He May Abolish Military Rule for Arabs in Border Areas
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Eshkol Says He May Abolish Military Rule for Arabs in Border Areas

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Prime Minister Levi Eshkol indicated the possibility here today of further far-reaching relaxation of military government in Israel’s Arab-populated border areas. In a statement to the press here, Mr. Eshkol said that it was even possible that military government might be abolished entirely in those areas.

Commenting on his post-election plans, Mr. Eshkol said that he will make a maximum effort to speedily complete negotiations aimed at a broad coalition but that, if difficulties arose, he would prefer a narrow coalition soon rather than engage in protracted talks.

With the balloting in Israel’s army installations nearly completed, the Mapai-Achdut Avoda Alignment showed a likelihood of receiving 44 seats in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, instead of the 43 estimated earlier. Ben-Gurion’s Israel Workers List (Rafi) is also likely to receive one more seat than earlier anticipated, for a total of 10.

The Herut-Liberal Alignment (Gahal) will probably get 26 seats; Mapam, 8; National Religious Party, 11; Independent Liberals, 5; Agudat Israel, 4; Poalei Agudat Israel, 2; the Arab Communist faction, 3; the pro-Israel Communists, 1; the Mapai-affiliated Arabs, 4; and the Haolam Hazeh list, assured of one seat and contesting the Mapai-Achdut Alignment for a second seat. The official results will be announced on Tuesday.

Premier Eshkol was reported today to be confident that he can establish a new coalition Government quickly following the victory of his Mapai-Achdut Avodah alignment bloc in last week’s Parliam entary elections. Sources close to the Premier also said that he would seek a broad coalition based on the alignment’s anticipated 43 or 44 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, plus the 11 of the National Religious Party, the Independent Liberals’ five, and the seats of the left-wing Mapam.

These, plus possible bids for the four seats of Agudat Israel, one or two from Poale Agudat Israel, and those of the Mapai-affiliated Arab parties, would give the coalition more than 75 seats. The opposition would then consist of the 26-seat Herut-Liberal alignment, the 10 deputies elected by Rafi, the four Communist deputies, Haolam Hazeh’s single deputy, plus one of two minor party representatives.


Former Premier Ben-Gurion meanwhile made it plain that his rebuff at the hands of the voters would not mean the end of his fight against Premier Eshkol. At a meeting of his followers in Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion delivered one of his most bitter attacks against the Premier and called the balloting the “ugliest election campaign in Israel’s annals.”

He said the main support for the Mapai-Achdut alignment came from the “middle class” who supported the “Eshkol-Sapir government” because its members were “doing very well.” “We must get rid of Eshkol,” he stated. Pinhas Sapir is Finance Minister, Mr. Ben-Gurion called the Eshkol-led alignment a “gang that employs all possible means to hold on to power” and a “corrupt Tammany Hall-style machine.”

The former Premier charged Mr. Eshkol with using the defense establishment in his election campaign, and with putting Mapai Party interests above the interests of the State. He made the charges in quoting from a letter he wrote to a Mapai member, before the election, in which he warned that Israel was in “moral and political danger.” He announced he would devote the rest of his life to fighting against Israel becoming a “Levantine” state.

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