Latest Eshkol-dayan Incident ‘closed’; Rafi Bids for Merger with Mapai

The general secretary of the Israel Workers Party (Rafi), Shimon Peres, officially notified the Mapai Party tonight of Rafi’s decision to merge with it and the Achdut Avodah Party to form a tripartite united labor party. Both Mapai and Rafi are apparently disregarding the political incident created by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan’s statement to a Rafi party convention last week that he would work within a united party to replace Prime Minister Eshkol and Finance Minister Sapir.

The Prime Minister’s office meanwhile has denied reports that Mr. Eshkol had intervened to prevent an invitation from U.S. Defense Secretary Robert MacNamara to General Dayan to visit the United States.

The latest political incident was considered closed today after issuance of a Cabinet communique expressing regret that Gen. Dayan had made the statement. The Cabinet considered the issue for an hour at its meeting Sunday. Gen. Dayan explained that his reference had not been to the national emergency coalition in its present composition and he asserted that this membership in the Cabinet meant that he had full confidence in the Government and in Premier Eshkol. The official Cabinet communique expressing regret that the statement had been made, also included a statement by the Prime Minister that in view of the present situation, he had decided not to invoke consequences against Gen. Dayan.

A Government spokesman (following the Cabinet meeting) said that the Dayan statement had been raised by several members. He said no vote had been taken on the question at any stage of the discussion. Gen. Dayan himself, the spokesman said, read to the meeting the official record of the Rafi convention to show that his statement that the national emergency coalition must remain intact immediately followed the statement of his intention to seek the replacement of Eshkol and Sapir. The final wording of the official communique, it was learned, was the work of a five-man ministerial committee.

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