Knesset Approves New Cabinet Presented by Eshkol; Vote is 71 to 41
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Knesset Approves New Cabinet Presented by Eshkol; Vote is 71 to 41

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Premier Levi Eshkol’s new coalition Government was approved by Parliament today by a vote of 71 to 41. The Government was sworn in and the new Ministers presented to President Zalman Shazer.

The new coalition, presented by the Premier to the Knesset this morning, commands 75 of the 120 Knesset seats and is based on much the same policies as the prior Government which Mr. Eshkol also headed. Concessions were made on Sabbath restrictions to the National Religious Party, and Achdut Avoda and Mapam were given freedom to act independently of the usual majority rule on Cabinet decisions on some major issues.

The parties comprising the new coalition and their Knesset seats are; the Premier’s alignment of Mapai and Achdut Avoda, 45; the National Religious Party, 11; Mapam, eight; the Independent Liberals, five; the Mapai-affiliated Arab parties, four; and Poale Agudat Israel, two. The Poale Agudat Israel decided at the last minute to join the coalition and will receive a deputy ministry, that of Education, to be held by Kalman Kahana.

The agreement with the National Religious Party provides for a ban on work on the Sabbath nationally, including owners of plants and workers in industries on collectives, Achdut Avoda and Mapam were given freedom to abstain on issues of West Germany. Mapam was given freedom to vote independently on questions of nuclear disarmament.

In presenting his new Government, Premier Eshkol expressed satisfaction over the fact that Arab leaders were coming around to the view that war was senseless and are recognizing the need for peaceful coexistence with Israel. He cited specifically the public stand of President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, who touched off a storm in the Arab world last year by declaring in several public statements and interviews that the Arab dream of destroying Israel was senseless, and urging Arab leaders to consider peace talks with Israel.

The Premier said he believed Bourguiba’s statement about not being the only Arab leader holding those views. He denied Bourguiba’s contention that both Israel and Egypt had rejected his proposals. He said that President Nasser of Egypt had rejected the Tunisian leader’s proposals outright, but that Israel was always open to any constructive suggestions which respected Israeli sovereignty.


Premier Eshkol protested the “copious arms supplies from the Soviet Union” to Arab states, and added that “recently, Western powers, too, have started selling arms in considerable quantities to states that threaten to attack a neighboring state.” He said that, so long as the arms race is not stopped, “Israel ought to be supplied with the means of security and defense according to her needs, as she evaluates them.”

Mr. Eshkol voiced hope that the West and the Soviet Union will arrive at an “agreed policy, founded on support in theory and practice, for the independence and integrity of all existing states in the Middle East.” He accused the Arabs of trying to “change the map of the Middle East” and said Israel would continue to consolidate its military strength. He denounced the Arab heads of state for “fostering the idea of preparation for war” and “stimulating the activities of groups like the Palestine Liberation Organization.”

The Premier also expressed the hope for better relations with the Soviet Union and with India. He promised to seek strengthening of relations with world Jewry and efforts to advance immigration, absorption of immigrants, and Jewish education throughout the world. He announced he would introduce a bill to lay down for Israel the fundamental rights of man, and one to ease military rule in Israel’s Arab-settled areas, near the borders.

Mr. Eshkol’s presentation constituted his first public appearance since he became ill a month ago. However, he remained in the hall during the debate. He indicated that, immediately after the Knesset’s vote of confidence in his new Government, he planned to leave for “several weeks” of rest somewhere in Israel. That decision confirmed impressions that his illness during the coalition negotiations, which had been announced as fatigue from campaigning and later influenza, was more serious than had been stated. Finance Minister Sapir will serve as Acting Premier during the Premier’s absence.

Speakers opening the debate included Monahem Beigin, leader of the rightwing Herut, an opposition party, and former Premier David Ben-Gurion, speaking as head of the Israeli Workers Party (Rafi) which he founded last year in an open break with Premier Eshkol’s leadership, and which is now an opposition party, Mr. Beigin asserted that the new Government could not solve Israel’s problems. Mr. Ben-Gurion derided the World Zionist Actions Committee, now in session here. He said its delegates were “people who are taken to be Zionists only because they call themselves Zionists.”

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