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Labor Party Warns of Cabinet Crisis if Liberals Introduce Civil Marriages Bill Today

Leaders of the Labor Alignment in Premier Golda Meir’s coalition made strenuous efforts today to persuade Mapam Knesset members to oppose a limited bill for civil marriage which the Independent Liberal Party plans to introduce tomorrow in defiance of a Cabinet majority decision that such action would violate the coalition agreement. Under the coalition pact, as distinct from the agreement forming the Parliamentary bloc of Labor and Mapam, Mapam has the freedom to vote separately on religious issues. Mapam leaders are demanding the right to use it on the limited civil marriage bill.

Labor Party leaders warned that Mapam support of the civil marriage bill would create a coalition crisis and possibly force new elections in the fall a year ahead of schedule. But some observers said a crisis atmosphere was being artificially created by the Labor Party to force the Liberals to withdraw the marriage bill. If the effort, which include a Labor Party warning to the Liberals they may be forced to quit the coalition if they introduce the bill, fails to work, it appeared likely Labor would content itself with defeating the bill–for which it has ample votes–and let the issue rest at that point without forcing a coalition crisis.

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