JERUSALEM (Nov. 5)
Premier Golda Meir and other Labor Party leaders are making strenuous efforts to reconcile two diametrically opposed political factions in order to put together a broadly based national coalition Government that can govern Israel for the next four years.
The left-wing Mapam, which entered a political alignment with Mrs. Meir’s Labor Party earlier this year, is flatly opposed to a full coalition alliance based on common policy with the right-wing Gahal (Herut-Liberal) alignment. Mapam adheres to Marxist Socialism on the home front and takes a moderate line toward the Arabs and the occupied territories. Gahal is economically conservative and takes a hard line toward the Arabs. It emerged from the Oct. 28 national election as the second strongest party in Israel and is demanding Cabinet representation commensurate with its strength in the Knesset.
Mapam said it would agree to Gahal’s participation in a national Government which it would consider to be an emergency body but pointed out that its allegiance to Cabinet policy covers only security, foreign policy and budget matters. Gahal has demanded four portfolios in a new Cabinet, at least two of them in first line “social” and “economic” ministries It has also demanded certain changes in the policies of the outgoing Government and on several points of internal policy.
The Labor Party’s political bureau deliberated for over five hours yesterday and nominated Mrs. Meir as its candidate to head the next Government. The Premier reportedly stated that she would not abandon the political alignment with Mapam for the sake of getting Gahal to join her Cabinet. The Party decided to delay negotiations with Gahal until its difficulties with Mapam are resolved. The Mapam political committee will meet tomorrow.
The situation was further complicated today by the collapse the Labor Party’s coalition government in Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest city. That shaky edifice, put together under Laborite Mayor Yehoshua Rabinowitz, lasted for 40 hours. It was based on a Labor majority of one seat in the 31-member City Council–that of the Ben Gurion-State-list’s sole candidate, and included the Independent Liberals and the small Orthodox faction, Agudat Israel. The Orthodox National Religious Party, a member of the old Tel Aviv coalition, was piqued over not having been invited into the new city government. Only the last minute intervention of Labor Party Secretary general Pincus Sapir prevented the religious bloc from passing a resolution to start negotiations with Gahal and the Ben Gurion list for a new coalition excluding Labor.
In order to save Tel Aviv for Mayor Rabinowitz, the Labor Party is expected to court the NRP even more strenuously on the Cabinet level. It was reported today however that the Labor Party threatened to rescind its ban on Sabbath television broadcasts if the NRP joined Gahal in an anti-Labor Tel Aviv coalition. Earlier this week, the Orthodox politicians exacted at least a temporary ban on Sabbath TV from the Labor Party’ governing council as their price for joining a national coalition. Israel’s nationally owned television system was supposed to begin broadcasts on a seven-day basis this Friday. This has been postponed. But the Israel Broadcasting Authority has bitterly protested the Labor Party’s decision on the issue and its director and several members have threatened to resign of they are over-ruled by the Cabinet. The Broadcasting Authority is a quasi public body whose members represent Government bodies, but it is supposed to function independently under Israeli law.
President Zalman Shazar began consultations last Saturday with representatives of the various factions and will decide next week which party he will ask to form a new Government. It is a foregone conclusion that he will designate Mrs. Meir’s Labor Party. The official election results are to be gazetted on Friday.