Mapai Leaders Hailed Ben-gurion; Former Premier Absent from Rally

Leaders of Premier Levi Eshkol’s Mapai Party attended today a meeting of the party’s central committee to honor former Premier David Ben-Gurion on his 80th birthday, which falls on October 1.

Mr. Ben-Gurion was not present. The absence of the guest of honor, who split last year with his long-time party colleagues, forming a dissident political party, was commented on by Mrs. Golda Meir, who served in many Ben-Gurion Cabinets. She said the situation was “illogical” and hard to understand.

Mrs. Meir and other speakers expressed the hope that some “miracle” would occur, and that Mr. Ben-Gurion would “find his way back” to Mapai and let “bygones be bygones,” However, a veteran party leader, Shaul Avigur, put the matter in another perspective. He said that “we all esteem Ben-Gurion and no one can forget what he did for Israel and for its security. But his way now is no longer our way.” He and Mrs. Meir hailed their absent comrade’s leadership in the creation of Israel and in serving it and wished him many more years.

At the same time, the public committee organizing celebrations of the birthday, headed by President Zalman Shazar as honorary chairman, announced it would issue bronze, silver and gold medals in connection with the celebration.

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