Little Progress is Reported in Efforts to Establish Labor Party Unity
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Little Progress is Reported in Efforts to Establish Labor Party Unity

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With national elections little more than two months away, the Israel Labor Party appeared to be making little progress toward narrowing the gap with its disaffected Rafi faction. The situation was complicated by the emergence of splits within Rafi itself.

Veteran party leaders and Rafi adherents got together for a “talk session” last night but the talks were then postponed at the request of the Rafi adherents. The latter said they wanted to wait until the platform committee ironed out certain organizational problems and completed its discussion on policies in the occupied Arab territories. Those policies, along with the question of security boundaries, were left hanging when the Labor Party ended its convention a week ago. The party’s central committee was empowered to decide whether the platform should incorporate an “unwritten” plank proposed by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan that spelled out what Israel would regard as its future security boundaries. Gen. Dayan is the acknowledged leader of the Rafi faction which merged with Mapai and Achdut Avodah early this year to form the Labor Party.

But there now appear to be two Rafis and possibly three. One is outside the Labor Party and will file a separate election list headed by former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Mr. Ben-Gurion created the original Rafi Party several years ago when he broke away from Mapai in a political dispute with the late Levi Eshkol, then Prime Minister.

Several Rafi members who declined to join the Labor Party plan to run in the elections for the Histadrut, Israel’s Labor Federation, on an independent list headed by Mr. Ben-Gurion.

The Rafi faction within the Labor Party also seemed to be divided. One group has joined with the party leadership to urge unity as the overriding consideration. But the more militant followers of Gen. Dayan and former Rafi party secretary Shimon Peres are demanding more independence and greater representation on Labor Party bodies.

Labor Party leaders were scheduled to meet today and were expected to demand that the former Rafi members disassociate themselves from the Ben-Gurion list. It was learned that the party leaders would be satisfied if Rafi renounced any “splinter or caricature” lists without naming any faction. The Rafi members were not considered likely to agree to repudiate their old leader, Mr. Ben-Gurion, by name.

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