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Mrs. Meir Begins Talks Aimed at Forming New Government, Consults with Nrp’s Shapiro

Premier Golda Meir began informal talks today in an effort to establish a new coalition Government based on the results of last week’s Knesset election. She met today with Moshe Shapiro, leader of the National Religious Party, who is Minister of Interior in the outgoing Government.

Mr. Shapiro yesterday advocated retention of the present national unity Government, which was put together by the late Premier Levi Eshkol on the eve of the Six-Day War. There are differences of opinion over re-establishing a broad-based Government within Mrs. Meir’s Labor Party-Mapam Alignment. Without the NRP, it would be difficult to find partners for a coalition based on a parliamentary majority. According to unofficial election returns, the Labor alignment won 58 seats in the new Knesset, five less than the absolute majority it holds in the outgoing sixth Knesset. The Gahal (Herut-Liberal alignment) emerged as the second strongest party with 27 seats, a gain of five. The NRP ran a poor third, with 11 seats. However, in partnership with Labor, it would permit Mrs. Meir to govern without accepting the conditions that Gahal is likely to demand in return for its participation in a new coalition. The Central Elections Committee announced meanwhile that it would publish the official election results next Thursday.

The final count in the Jerusalem municipal elections gave Mayor Teddy Kollek’s Labor alignment 31 seats on the City Council. Gahal won 16 against a total of 13 for the three religious factions–NRP, Agudat Israel and Poale Agudat Israel. A new list, the Iraqi Immigrants Party, received one seat. Mr. Kollek favors a coalition made up of all parties.

One of the surprises of the election was the large Arab turnout in Jerusalem. Some 9,000 East Jerusalem Arabs cast ballots, ignoring Arab guerrilla reprisal threats and a demand for a general strike broadcast by Amman radio.

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