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Mrs. Meir Runs into Tough Talk from Gahal, Opens Negotiations with Nrp on Cabinet

Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Premier, has run into tough talk from Gahal (Herut-Liberal alignment) in the first stages of her Cabinet-making, and some members of her dominant Israel Labor Party are expressing reservations about the desirability of including Gahal in the new Government.

The United Labor Party, whose Alignment with the leftist, Marxist Mapam came out of the Oct. 28 national election for the seventh Knesset with less than a majority, is in a weakened position and is expected to face long and tough negotiations over the composition of the new Cabinet.

It was learned that the rightist Gahal will not agree to a new widely-based coalition built upon the basic policy lines of the outgoing Labor-dominated Government of National Unity. Gahal is expected to demand four ministries; at present it has only two Ministers-Without-Portfolio in the Cabinet. Laborites on the other hand, say that the presence of Gahal in the Cabinet would introduce a brake on Government activity, especially in foreign affairs. Gahal stands for annexation of the occupied territories.

The National Religious Party (NRP), third strongest in the new parliament, is a likely and important factor in the next Cabinet. The NRP, which picked up an extra Knesset seat with the counting of the soldiers’ vote to give it 12 to Gahal’s 26, has demanded a ban on television broadcasts on the Sabbath as its price for joining a coalition. Mrs. Meir met yesterday with the NRP’s head. Minister of Interior Moshe Shapiro. According to some Israeli newspapers, she surrendered totally to the Orthodox demands and pledged that television would not “desecrate” the Sabbath. Other newspapers claimed that Mrs. Meir gave Mr. Shapiro only “vague assurances” that TV would not interfere with traditional observance of the Sabbath. But most observers believe it is a virtual certainty that there will be no TV this Friday night, the date on which a seven-day broadcasting schedule was supposed to go into effect.

Concessions to the Orthodox have already been made in Tel Aviv where the Labor alignment created a coalition with a majority of one seat in the 31-member City Council after losing two in the election. The NRP was left out of the Tel Aviv coalition which is now composed of Labor, the Independent Liberals, the Ben Gurion state list and Agudat Israel. To appease the latter, it was agreed that some services that function on Saturdays would be partially closed or that tickets would have to be purchased a day earlier.

Gahal’s success was not confined to the national scene. It won the mayoral contests in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv, in Nathanya, Safad, Ashdod, Kiryat Malachi and Rishon LeZion. The results of the soldiers’ vote, announced last night by the Central Elections Committee, reduced the Labor-Mapam Alignment representation in the Knesset to 56 seats from the 58 that they appeared to have won. Gahal too dropped from 27 to 26 seats. The NRP gained one seat. The so-called State List of former Prime Minister Ben Gurion went from three to four seats. There were no changes in other factions. But the total number of seats so far allocated amounts to 118. The remaining two are expected to go to one or more of the three smallest lists–Free Center, Haolam Hazeh and Israel Communists–when the balance of soldiers’ votes and those casts by Israeli sailors at sea are counted.

(Four Orthodox rabbinical organizations in the United States cabled a protest against Sabbath television to Mrs. Meir, Interior Minister Shapiro, and Dr. Zorach Warhaftig, Minister of Religious Affairs. Saturday TV would mean “degradation of the nation’s honor,” said a cable from the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the U.S. and Canada, the Grand Rabbis of America, the Rabbinical Council of America and the Rabbinical Alliance of America.)

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