JERUSALEM (Mar. 11)
President Zalman Shazar today officially named Mrs. Golda Meir, 70, Israel’s fourth Prime Minister, wished her luck and long life and observed that she enjoyed greater support in the Knesset (Parliament) than any of her predecessors. Mrs. Meir visited the President to accept his letter of appointment as specified by Israeli law. Mr. Shazar noted that eight political factions commanding 106 votes in the 120-member chamber had agreed to endorse a cabinet headed by her. He added the hope that a peace treaty with the Arab countries would be signed during Mrs. Meir’s tenure. She immediately began forming a coalition government.
Mrs. Meir said that the large parliamentary majority prepared to vote its confidence in the next cabinet demonstrated Israel’s consciousness of the need for national unity. She also expressed the hope that peace with the Arab countries would come in the near future.
Mrs. Meir’s accession to the Premiership of Israel came about as a result of the sudden death of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol on Feb. 26. A former Foreign Minister of Israel and once this country’s Ambassador to Moscow, Mrs. Meir had retired from public life though she remained a powerful figure in the inner circles of Israel’s dominant Labor Party.
It was the Labor Party leadership which selected her to succeed Mr. Eshkol. She was regarded as the only political personality capable of forestalling a bitter intra-party struggle for the succession between Israel’s popular Defense Minister, Gen. Moshe Dayan, and Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon who served as Acting Prime Minister from Mr. Eshkol’s death to Mrs. Meir’s appointment today. Mrs. Meir is expected to hold the Premiership at least until Israel’s national elections next Oct. 28.
Labor Party circles expressed the hope today that Mrs. Meir could present her new cabinet to the Knesset for approval by Thursday. But differences have cropped up between the Labor Party and Gahal, the Herut-Liberal Party alignment, which is the second largest faction in the coalition government. Gahal insists that the government’s basic platform document be redrafted to reflect the cabinet’s decision that the present cease-fire lines remain Israel boundaries until a peace treaty is signed with the Arabs. The document is the contractual agreement on which the cabinet bases itself when it seeks the Knesset’s confidence. In its present form it refers only to the armistice lines which existed prior to the June, 1967 Six-Day War. Labor Party leaders have suggested that it remain as is and that the changes demanded by Gahal be made orally in a statement to the Knesset by the Prime Minister-designate. A cabinet committee representing the full coalition has been set up to deal with the dispute.
Mrs. Meir said in a radio speech that “I can only express my sorrow that Egypt and its leaders have not learned…that war is not a solution and that, if we are attacked, we are capable and ready to defend ourselves.”