Dominant Parties in Israel Oppose Broadening of Coalition Government

Requests for a broadening of Premier Levi Eshkol’s coalition government were renewed today by two coalition partners, the National Religious Party and the Independent Liberals.

Dr. I.S. Ben-Meir, Deputy Interior Minister, told officials of Rafi, former Premier David Ben-Gurion’s dissident party, that a number of younger members of his NRP were pressing to leave the government because of a “crisis of confidence” in the present coalition. Yitzhak Artzi, an Independent Liberal Jewish Agency member, told a party meeting in Natanya that a wider coalition was needed to carry out the government’s policies.

The Premier’s dominant alignment of Mapai and Achdut Avodah responded with plans to start an information campaign tomorrow to counter such proposals. The campaign will continue for several weeks in an atmosphere which some observers said could be described as an election mood without elections.

The National Religious Party, which is represented in the Government, has been conducting a campaign for some time advocating a “wall-to-wall” Cabinet to include also the political parties not represented now in the Government. Such an extension would strengthen the position of the NRP in Cabinet but would weaken the influence there of the Mapai-Achdut Avodah alignment.

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