Tel Aviv (Oct. 28)
The Labor Alignment agreed at a meeting here today to permit one of its constituent factions, Mapam, to abstain in next week’s Knesset vote on government-sponsored legislation to curb strikes by government and public service employes. Mapam, though a member of the coalition government, is opposed to the legislation. Under Israeli law a coalition partner may abstain if permission to do so is granted. Permission was granted today conditional on the legislation being assured of a majority without Mapam’s votes. Mapam leaders said there was no question that a majority is assured but refused to speculate on what Mapam would do should that not be the case. They said the question was hypothetical.
But the vote might be closer than expected. The right-wing Gahal faction which has criticized the legislation for not being tough enough, could decide to vote against the bill instead of merely abstaining. That would put a severe strain on the Labor majority to mobilize all possible votes. Certain elements of the Labor Party itself are cool to the measure though they are required by party discipline to vote for it. Mapam was refused permission to state the reasons for its abstention in the Knesset. Such a statement would require the government to reply to its coalition partner, creating an anomolous situation on the Knesset floor.