Negotiations on Formation of New Israeli Coalition Cabinet Collapse

Negotiations between Premier Levi Eshkol’s Mapai-Achdut Avoda Alignment and the National Religious Party for the latter’s participation in the next coalition Government collapsed last night but contacts were maintained in a continued effort to break the deadlock.

The stumbling block continued to be demands of the religious bloc for concessions on religious issues. The Alignment charged that the religious group had raised new demands which exceeded those originally presented in the negotiations which have been going on since Premier-designate Eshkol received his mandate following the Alignment’s emergence from the November 2 elections last year as Israel’s largest political bloc.

The religious party counter-charged that the Alignment had gone back on concessions it had previously accepted. The religious party is a member of the prior coalition which has been serving as a caretaker government.

While both sides publicly declared that religious party participation in the next coalition was now unlikely, the indications were that Premier Eshkol would strongly prefer not to have to depend on Mapam, now an opposition party, and the Arab parties for a very narrow coalition. Similarly, it was believed that the religious party, a member of every coalition since Israel’s first government in 1948, was averse to assuming an opposition role.

The Premier’s extended mandate is scheduled to expire next Sunday.

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