Labor Ministers Propose Golda Meir As Prime Minister in ‘caretaker’ Government

Minister Without Portfolio Pinhas Sapir, the secretary-general of the Israel Labor Party, expressed confidence that Mrs. Golda Meir, the former Foreign Minister, would heed the party’s draft and agree to serve as Prime Minister of a caretaker Government of national unity until the country holds general elections in November. Nomination of Mrs. Meir was decided upon at a meeting of the Labor members of the Cabinet under the chairmanship of Acting Prime Minister Yigal Allon. Its decision was announced at midnight.

The ministers agreed unanimously that a new Government should be named as soon as possible and that the present national unity coalition should be continued. On the decision that Mrs. Meir be named as Prime Minister, only Defense Minister Moshe Dayan abstained, declaring that he was bound by decisions of a meeting of members of the former Rafi party, now merged into the Labor Party. The Rafi meeting voted that Gen. Dayan was the proper candidate for the Premiership. It decided, however, that since, in its view, party organs that were appointed, not elected, were not properly authorized to designate candidates, Gen. Dayan’s name would not be submitted to the meeting of the party’s central committee next Sunday which will officially nominate a candidate for the succession to the late Levi Eshkol. It was understood, however, that Gen. Dayan would agree to serve as Minister of Defense in a Government headed by Mrs. Meir if she offered him the post.

The position taken by the former Rafi members was challenged by Yosef Almogi, former Rafi leader, who said that in view of the merger of Rafi with Mapai and Achdut Avodah to form the Israel Labor Party, the decision taken by the meeting of former Rafi members was not binding on him or other former Rafi members. He said he would support the nomination of Mrs. Meir.

Mrs. Meir is expected to maintain silence until the party’s central committee officially invites her to accept the designation. The secretariat of the party met tonight and was to ratify the decision already taken by the Labor ministers and bring this recommendation to the central committee on Sunday night. Mrs. Meir will then give her answer. The choice of Mrs. Meir is regarded as the best possibility of averting a confrontation between the two most popular candidates for the Premiership, Gen. Allon and Gen. Dayan, but it would, at best, only defer the showdown since the party would have to determine its candidate to head its slate in the November elections.

The unexpected arrival here of Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Major Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, gave rise to rumors today that he was a possible candidate for a ministerial post in a new Government. The rumors have been denied. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Ambassador Rabin was invited for consultations with Foreign Minister Abba Eban prior to the latter’s visit to Washington. It is expected that they will evaluate the results of President Nixon’s talks on the Middle East with various European leaders last week. Mr. Eban is expected to leave for Washington after March 9.

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