JERUSALEM (Dec. 28)
Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, who has spent two weeks in a hospital suffering from what his physicians called “exhaustion” was ill again at his home here today, the diagnosis being “a severe cold and influenza.” Mr. Eshkol’s doctors ordered him to halt immediately all personal participation in his efforts to form a new Cabinet. Thus, possibility of his presentation of the new Cabinet to the Knesset (Parliament) this week seems most unlikely.
Meanwhile, however, negotiations are continuing among the various political parties in the effort to set up a new government necessitated by the general elections held November 2. Mr. Eshkol, who had been given by President Shazar the mandate to form the Cabinet as a successor to the present caretaker government has, officially, until January 9 to complete that task. No further extension of that period is possible.
The principal stumbling block in the negotiations still revolves around the insistence of the National Religious Party for more stringent implementation of religious law affecting Israeli life. The NRP is a member of the caretaker government but refuses to join the new Cabinet unless Mr. Eshkol agrees to its demands. Such agreement is opposed by two other groups scheduled to form the new coalition, the left-wing Mapam Party and the Inddependent Liberal Party. Some sections of the Mapai-Achdut Avoda alignment also oppose some of the NRP’s demands.