Coalition Protests Lead Eshkol to Promise Delay in Vote on Absorption Ministry

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, yielding to sharp protests among some of his Government coalition partners, told the Cabinet today that a vote on his proposal to set up a new Ministry of Absorption would be delayed until the next Cabinet meeting and possibly later. Under his plan, Labor Minister Yigal Allon would be appointed Deputy Prime Minister as head of the new ministry. Josef Almogi, a former leader of the dissident Rafi faction in Premier Eshkol’s dominant Israel Labor Party, would succeed Gen. Allon as Labor Minister.

Mr. Eshkol stressed that the proposed new ministry would be a separate unit and not part of the Prime Minister’s office. Then he said that, at the request of several ministers, a discussion and a vote on the proposals would be postponed. The Labor Party’s leadership bureau overwhelmingly approved the proposals last Friday but some former Rafi members stayed away from the bureau meeting, contending that the bureau lacked the competence to deal with such matters. They argued also that under the agreement creating the Labor Party, each of the former constituents had the right to name its own representatives to executive bodies of the Government.

The Independent Liberal Party and Poalei Agudat Israel Party indicated over the weekend that they would not oppose the Premier’s plan but the Gahal (Herut-Liberal) faction and the National Religious Party indicated they were opposed to any ministerial changes before the general election scheduled for 1969.

PLAN OPPOSED BY HERUT, ALLON CLARIFIES ROLE OF OFFICE

The central committee of the Herut Party met and lashed out against the plan because Mr. Eshkol had not consulted members of his coalition, but Herut’s leaders decided not to act pending the return of Herut leader Menachem Beigin from a current visit to the United States on behalf of the United Jewish Appeal’s current campaign. It was reported here that, when Mr. Beigin was informed of Mr. Eshkol’s proposal, he decided to cut short his U.S. tour to discuss the issue with the Premier. However, UJA leaders in the U.S. sent a cable to Mr. Eshkol asking him to give every possible assurance that no vote would be taken on his proposal so that Mr. Beigin could continue his “extraordinarily successful” tour. The Premier, it was reported, then cabled the Herut leader assuring him no decision on the new ministry would be taken until he returned and asked him to continue the tour. However, the Herut leader apparently had decided to reduce his visit by at least a few days for an early return to Israel.

Gen. Allon meanwhile, told the 27th World Zionist Congress tonight that the new absorption office would be both an executive and coordinating factor but that its creation would not relieve other governmental offices of their obligations in immigrant absorption and integration. He said special emphasis would be placed in the new ministry on integration efforts through lands manschaften and other forms of immigrant associations. Speaking at a Congress plenary session, Gen. Allon said that for the new type of immigration Israel expects from the Western world, new approaches were needed. He told the delegates that while Israel could not assure Western immigrants of the standard of living to which they were accustomed, Israel could assure a “proper living standard materially” but even much higher cultural and social living standards. “In any case,” he said, “I don’t think American Jews would come to Israel to seek the American way of living or the American living standard.” He said that assurance of Jewish continuity, social challenges, Jewish freedom, heroism and culture were some of the aspects of the new life Israel was proposing to prospective immigrants from the West.

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