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Merger of Mapai, Rafi and Achdut Avodah into Single Party Considered Imminent

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol’s Mapai Party named two committees today to negotiate with Achdut Avodah and former Premier David Ben-Gurion’s dissident Israel Workers Party (Rafi) for a unified Labor party. The appointments followed receipt of a letter from Rafi officials proposing such negotiations and tentative approval by Achdut Avodah which is presently joined in an alignment with Mapai which is the dominant element in the present coalition Government.

Labor Minister Yigal Allon of Achdut Avodah and Mrs, Golda Meir, Mapai Secretary-General, speaking at a kibbutz convention, called today for total merger of all labor parties. Mrs. Meir, who had previously resisted strongly any overtures to Rafi, said that the time was now ripe for such union. She said all dividing factors between the parties had disappeared.

The two leaders stressed that Rafi should also be in the proposed merged party because many of its members were eager to return. Yaacov Hazan of Mapam, speaking at the same convention said he also favored union, although no direct overtures have been made by Mapai to Mapam. He suggested however that there be special autonomy for each of the participating parties.

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