JERUSALEM (Jul. 19)
Infighting among leaders of the National Religious Party over a successor to Halm Moshe Shapiro as Minister of the Interior get under way even as Mr. Shapiro, who died last Thursday night at the age of 68, was buried today on Mount Scopus, overlooking the Old City. Thousands of mourners filed past the bier as it lay in state outside the convention center, and eulogies were delivered at the funeral services by Premier Golda Meir and Mr. Shapiro’s two NRP governmental colleagues. Minister of Religious Affairs Zerach Warhaftig and Minister of Welfare Yosef Burg. The only NRP official with massive rank-and-file support for the interior Ministryship is Dr. Itzhak Raphael, Knesset member and parliamentary group chairman. However, he may decide to forego a test of strength, since even a victory for him would lead to the serious danger of the secession of the party’s left wing. It has been proposed that Mr. Shapiro’s post–by far the most important of the NRP’s three portfolios–be given to Dr. Raphael’s opponent. Dr. Burg. But Dr. Israel Ben-Meir, Deputy Minister of the Interior and the head of the anti-Raphael forces within the party, is opposed to such a plan.
The NRP is in a difficult position now, because it was Mr. Shapiro’s personal prestige that held the various factions together, and without his conciliating influence latent rivalries are rising to the surface unchecked. Mr. Shapiro’s conciliatory skills also made possible the longtime cooperation between the ideologically opposed Labor Party of Golda Meir and the NRP. Considered a foreign policy “dove,” Mr. Shapiro was instrumental in persuading Premier Levi Eshkol to take a political enemy. Gen. Moshe Dayan, and the rightist Gahal faction into the government as part of the broad coalition. As for Mr. Shapiro’s world presidency of Mizrachi, party circles are suggesting that it be left vacant for now. The world executive of Mlzrachi-Hapoel Hamirachi held a memorial meeting here Friday which was addressed by Deputy Executive Chairman Bezalel Bazah.
The speaker said the late leader had “from the earnest time of his youth devoted himself to the land of Israel, the Torah of Israel, the people of Israel and the State of Israel. He represented our movement and religious Jewry with devotion, sincerity of heart and dignity.” Welfare Minister Yosef Burg, another NRP leader, said Mr. Shapiro “led our movement firmly but like a father. We will have to make a collective effort to overcome this grievous loss.” Rabbi Zemach Zambrowski, chairman of the party’s world executive, said that “a prince has fallen in Israel” and that he has left his imprint on two generations of national religious Zionists, on the life of the Zionist movement, on Jewry and the state.” Prime Minister Golda Meir and the Chief Rabbinate issued statements of mourning.