JERUSALEM (Dec. 14)
Premier Golda Meir prepared today to present her new coalition Government to the Knesset for approval tomorrow. The 24-member Cabinet, the largest in Israel’s history, almost duplicates the party membership of the late Premier Levi Eshkol’s National Unity Government put together on the eve of the 1967 war and represents 102 of the 120 Knesset seats.
Mrs. Meir’s Labor Alignment is dominant again with 12 portfolios including the key Ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs and Finance. But there will be some new faces, notably in the Gahal faction. Israel’s second largest party, which will have six ministers, headed by Menachem Beigin and Joseph Saphir.
One of them is expected to be Brig. Gen. Ezer Weizmann, an Air Force officer and a nephew of Israel’s first President, the late Dr. Chaim Weizmann. His selection yesterday by the Gahal Party for the post of Minister of Transport in the new Government came as a surprise. Gen. Weizmann, a former commander of the Air Force, resigned yesterday from his post as chief of operations of the Israeli General Staff, freeing himself to enter politics.
Mrs. Meir completed her Cabinet on Thursday and reported her success to President Zalman Shazar. The list of ministers approved included, for the Labor-Mapam Alignment, Mrs. Meir as Premier; Yigal Allon as Deputy Premier and Minister of Education; Moshe Dayan, Defense Minister; Abba Eban, Foreign Minister; Yosef Almogi, Minister of Labor; Haim Gvati, Minister of Agriculture; Shlomo Hillel, Minister of Police; Pinhas Sapir, Finance Minister; Zee Sharef, Minister of Development; Yaacov Shapiro, Minister of Justice; Shimon Peres, Israel Galili, Israel Barzilai and Victor Shemtov, ministers without Portfolio.
Mr. Peres, a former Deputy Defense Minister and a leader of the Rafi faction within the Labor Party, will have special responsibility for the civilian administration of the occupied territories. Mr. Galili will be designated Minister of Information if a separate Information Ministry is established. Mrs. Meir favors it, but Mr. Eban, whose Foreign Ministry is responsible for Israel’s information services abroad, is opposed.
Mr. Barzilai and Mr. Shemtov are members of Mapam who agreed to join a “Cabinet of national emergency” but refuse to participate in the new coalition. Mrs. Meir plans to hold two ministries open for them should they eventually change their minds. These are Health and Immigrant Absorption, which are likely to be turned over to acting ministers temporarily.
The National Religious Party, represented in the new Government as in the old by three ministers, will retain its old portfolios. Moshe Shapiro remains Minister of Interior, Dr. Zerach Warhaftig is Minister of Religious Affairs and Dr. Joseph Burg, Minister of Social Welfare. The Poalei Agudat Israel refused to enter the coalition after it was denied the post it held in the outgoing Government, that of Deputy minister of education and culture. It had been offered two deputy posts in ministries held by the NRP.
The Cabinet that governed Israel since the crisis days preceding the June, 1967 Six-Day War convened for the last time today. Although most members of the old Cabinet will sit in the new one, today’s session was in the form of a leave-taking. Premier Meir reviewed the events of her tenure as Premier. “This Government has not seen peace come to Israel and the region, and I hope that the incoming Government will have the benefit of bringing peace,” she said.
Mrs. Meir observed that the outgoing Government witnessed the emergence of Russian Jews’ active striving to emigrate to Israel. They are no longer afraid to have their desire brought to the world’s attention, she said. This has been proved by the documents and letters coming out of Soviet Russia, Mrs. Meir said.
She bade an official farewell to the five Ministers who will not be in the new Cabinet. They are Minister of Education, Zalman Aranne; Transport Minister Moshe Carmel; Housing Minister Mordechai Bentov; Police Minister Elighu Sasson, and Minister of Posts Israel Yeshayahu.