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5 Parties Try to Hammer out Common Foreign, Domestic Policies for New Government

The five parties in the outgoing national coalition Government met for five hours yesterday to try to hammer out a common policy on foreign and domestic issues that will guide the new coalition whenever it is formed. They spent about half the time arguing over procedure. But no changes were proposed in the present coalition platform dealing with foreign affairs and security.

The inter-party talks were boycotted by Mapan, junior partner in the Labor Alignment. Mapam, which is Marxist oriented and takes a conciliatory line towards the Arabs, has refused to join a coalition with rightist, hardline Gahal (Herut-Liberal Alignment) based on a common platform. So far Mapam has resisted Labor Party pressure to back down. There is talk in both Labor Party and Mapam circles that the best solution would be for Mapam to withdraw from the political alignment with Labor which was formed earlier this year. In that event, Mapam would be excluded from the new coalition.

Some Labor Party members however are finding it difficult to accept Gahal’s demands for changes in the economic and social policies of the outgoing coalition. Gahal submitted a lengthy document proposing, among other things, the compulsory arbitration of labor disputes and a new national health insurance plan. In addition to Labor and Gahal, the other factions represented at yesterday’s meeting were the National Religious Party, the Independent Liberals and the Poalei Agudat Israeli.

Meanwhile, the Labor Alignment managed to retain the mayor ship of Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest city, by agreeing to concessions demanded by the National Religious Party which will be its coalition partner. The NRP will get the posts of acting mayor and will be given control of several municipal departments. In addition, life in Tel Aviv will be made to conform, at least outwardly, to Orthodox religious practice. The planetarium will be closed Saturdays. There will be no public shows on that day and even private shows will not be permitted to advertise planetarium performances taking place on Friday nights.

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