Power Struggle Wracks Herut

The Herut Party convention, running 24 hours behind schedule, finally nominated a 65-member steering committee last night. But the two rival factions within the party have been unable to agree on a chairman with the result that the steering committee cannot function and the entire convention is stalled.

The 11th Herut convention, convened to prepare for next year’s national elections, has witnessed a power struggle since it opened Sunday night with ringing calls for national and party unity. One bloc, consisting of younger party officials, district secretaries and party workers, centers around Gen. Ezer Weizman, former Air Force commander and former Minister of Transport who is chairman of the Herut Executive. The rival bloc is made up of veteran followers of former underground fighter Menachem Beigin, one of the founding fathers of Herut and its acknowledged top leader since the party’s inception.

Both groups have nominated candidates for the steering committee chairmanship and a battle for the key post is being waged behind closed doors in Beth Zeev, Herut headquarters here. The plenary sessions were continuing in the interim but the delegates seemed preoccupied with the power struggle.

One of the speakers today was Boris Kochubievsky, a former activist from the Soviet Union, who said that Russian Jewish intellectuals who immigrate to Israel do not readily join Herut because they claim the party is not democratic. He noted that in the Soviet Union “it was forbidden to create groups within the party but here a healthy party must find room for different points of view.”

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