Mrs. Meir Reportedly Nearing Completion of New Coalition Government

Despite a last-minute hitch in the complex negotiations carried on by Premier Golda Meir to put together a broad coalition cabinet, prospects reportedly were good today for a new government, informed sources said.

One key to successful negotiations was persuading the National Religious Party to Join by an agreement to give the party the post of deputy Minister of Education, though minus the special powers the Orthodox faction had demanded. Another deputy Minister would be named from the ranks of the Labor Party alignment which will continue to hold the education portfolio. However, Mrs. Meir made her offer of the deputy post contingent on an alignment between the National Religious Party and the Poale Agudat Israel (workers) Party to form a 14-member faction in the Knesset.

It had been indicated that such an inter-religious alignment had been settled but tonight the Aguda workers declared that no agreement had been reached with the NRP. There was also still heavy bargaining remaining with the Gahal (Herut-Liberal) alignment which is to receive six Cabinet posts but only four portfolios. Gahal negotiators rejected the Ministry of Posts as one of the four, demanding a more important portfolio but the Labor alignment wants to hold two portfolios open for its junior partner, the leftist Mapam.

Mrs. Meir met again today with Mapam leaders, urging them to join her proposed coalition. Mapam remains adamant in refusing to join a coalition in which the rightist Gahal will have more representation and influence than it had in the prior government. The portfolios reserved for Mapam,if the party comes to terms, will be in the hands of caretaker Ministers. Mapam leaders indicated they planned a central committee meeting reportedly to seek a formula by which they could retreat from their opposition to joining a government with six Gahal Ministers.

Most political observers foresee few new faces in the next cabinet. Although no announcements have been made yet, it appears virtually certain that in addition to Premier Meir, Foreign Minister Abba Eban, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Deputy Premier Yigal Allon will retain their present posts. Other incumbents likely to remain are Labor Minister Josef Almogi, Minister of Justice Yaacov Shimshon Shapiro and Information Minister Israel Galili. Former Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir is considered almost certain to regain his old portfolio, replacing Ze’ev Sharef who will probably be offered another ministry. Mr. Sapir served as minister-without-portfolio in the outgoing government and is secretary general of the Labor Party. A new addition to the cabinet from Labor ranks will be Shimon Peress, leader of the Rafi faction, who is expected to be named minister-without-portfolio.

On the Gahal side, Menachem Beigin, Josef Saphir, Elimelekh Rimalt, Yochanan Bader and Arye Ben Eliezer have all been proposed for cabinet posts. Mr. Beigin and Mr. Saphir were ministers-without-portfolio in the old government. The Independent Liberals have named Moshe Kol, presently the Minister of Tourism and Development.

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