Shazar Confers with Knesset Factions Before Asking Mrs. Meir to Form Government
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Shazar Confers with Knesset Factions Before Asking Mrs. Meir to Form Government

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Israel’s President Zalman Shazar conferred today with all political factions in the Knesset (Parliament) to make sure there was complete assent before naming Mrs. Golda Meir as Prime Minister-designate and asking her to form a new government. Mrs. Meir was nominated for the Premiership–and accepted–last Friday by a vote of 287-0 with 45 abstentions in the Labor Party Central Committee. The Labor Party, in alignment with Mapam, holds an absolute majority in the Knesset, but President Shazar apparently wanted to hear the views of all factions before he acts, probably on Tuesday.

Observers here believe Mrs. Meir will have no trouble forming a government. The Labor Party, in nominating her for the Premiership, also approved a resolution calling for a government with the same coalition partners and the same distribution of portfolios as the one which served under the late Levi Eshkol and which now serves as a caretaker government under Acting Prime Minister Yigal Allon.

Some differences have arisen which could delay her announcement of the new government. These stem from a demand by Gahal (Herut-Liberal alignment), the second largest party in the coalition, that the government’s basic platform be rewritten to reflect the present cease-fire lines. The present platform mentions the armistice lines which existed prior to June 5, 1967. Labor Party leaders agreed to this last week, but Mapam has raised objections claiming that the revision would raise the matter of future boundaries at the wrong time and make it a subject of public debate. Gahal favors Israel’s permanent retention of the cease-fire boundaries. The left-wing Mapam believes the boundary question should be left open pending peace negotiations with the Arabs. An inter-party committee has been appointed to try to iron out the differences.

In accepting her party’s nomination, Mrs. Meir pledged to maintain national unity and called on those who served under Mr. Eshkol to “continue in the same framework” in her government. If she takes office, she and Mrs. Indira Gandhi of India would be the world’s only women prime ministers. But Mrs. Meir, who will be 71 in May and suffers from a circulatory ailment, was expected to be an interim Premier. Most political observers believed her tenure would end when Israelis go to the polls Oct. 28 to elect a new Knesset. Her selection by the Labor Party leadership came about largely because she was believed to be the only politician with sufficient influence to avert an open fight for power between the two principle contenders for the Premiership, Acting Prime Minister Allon and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan. Dayan is immensely popular with Israelis but not with the party inner circle which up to now has always selected Israel’s Premiers. The 45 abstentions in the vote for Mrs. Meir were registered by members of his Rafi faction. Forty other Rafi members voted for her but said they did so only because there was no other name on the list. They said they would support Gen. Dayan in a showdown fight. Such a fight could occur before election day when the Labor Party sits down to prepare its list and select its leader. Some observers said Mrs. Meir could resign before then and turn the Premiership over to Mr. Allon whom she favors.

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