TEL AVIV (Jul. 8)
Premier Golda Meir angrily stalked out of a rally of members of the Rafi faction of the Israel Labor Party here last night after one delegate accused her of bias against Rafi followers. The rally was attended by several thousand supporters of Defense Minister Moshe Dayan. Mrs. Meir appeared at her own request to appeal for Labor Party unity and urged the Rafi members not to break away from its ranks.
She exhorted the delegates, “in the name of Zionism and the ideals of the labor movement.” to remain within the Labor Party and claimed that to split away would be “an unforgivable luxury” for which “everybody would be ashamed.”
Gen. Dayan had told his followers earlier that while he had serious grievances against the Labor Party leadership, he had no intention of leaving the party or creating a new political faction. Mrs. Meir’s appeal for unity was also supported by Minister of Information Israel Galili. Gen. Dayan rejected supporters’ proposals that he run for the Premiership on a separate ticket.
During the discussion a Rafi delegate charged that Rafi-members would be subordinated after the Oct. 28 Knesset elections and accused the Premier of opposing the reappointment of Gen. Dayan as Defense Minister. Mrs. Meir took the remarks as a personal insult and walked out despite Gen. Dayan’s plea that she remain. She was accompanied by Mr. Galili.
The Rafi leadership will meet shortly to decide on their future course of action but it appeared today that a split was averted, at least for the time being. The Rafi followers are bitter against the party leadership for allegedly excluding them from deliberations on election strategy. Gen. Dayan said yesterday that Rafi members felt like “second class” members of the Labor Party. The Labor Party was formed last year by the merger of Rafi, Achdut Avodah and Mapai. Rafi was created several years ago when a faction within Mapai broke away under the leadership of former Premier David Ben-Gurion who disagreed with the policies of his successor, the late Premier Levi Eshkol. Opinion polls published here indicated that a list headed by Gen. Dayan could poll up to 30 percent of the vote in October.