JERUSALEM (Feb. 27)
The person who succeeds the late Levi Eshkol as Premier will probably be a personality devoid of the ambition to seek the post in the forthcoming November national election, informed observers suggested today, as the name of Mrs. Golda Meir, 70, emerged most frequently in speculation about a successor. The observers argued that whatever the successor Premier does between taking power and the November elections will be open to disabling criticism, from both opposition parties and from coalition members. The observers agreed that a period of less than nine months is too short a time for any leader to really prove himself as a Prime Minister and that a pre-election period was probably the worst possible time to try it.
Mrs. Meir was considered the candidate most likely to be able to rally the differing sections and opinions of the power blocs in the Cabinet. However, it was reported reliably she had not yet been approached on the matter. She has served as foreign minister and as Mapai Party secretary-general.
None of the other apparent candidates are considered strong enough to take over the Premier’s post. Deputy Premier Yigal Allon, who is heading a caretaker government, was considered able to gain support of the United Labor Party machinery but was believed to lack general popularity. The opposite was considered the situation for Gen. Moshe Dayan, the Defense Minister. Foreign Minister Abba Eban might have a hard time convincing the Labor Party secretariat to back him for the Premiership, for popular opinion about him is divided, observers said. A great majority of Israelis considered him an excellent Foreign Minister but it is believed that most would not want to see him in serious consideration for the Premier’s post. He trails both Gen. Allon and Gen. Dayan in public opinion polls.
The Labor Party’s powerful secretary-general, Pinhas Sapir, is unlikely to be acceptable by the Gahal (Liberal-Herut) alignment or by the National Religious Party coalition factions because of his recent statement that the Israeli-occupied areas should be considered a burden to be thrown off as quickly as possible. His candidacy was seen as posing the threat of a breakup of the Government of national unity the late Premier Eshkol put together, and few Israelis want that to happen.