TEL AVIV (Dec. 21)
Gen. Ezer Weizman resigned early today as chairman of the Herut Executive after veteran party leader Menachem Beigin scored a decisive victory at Herut’s 11th national convention here, Weizman did not leave Herut, but his departure from that party’s No. 2 post was bound to have repercussions for Gahal, the Herut-Liberal alignment that comprises Israel’s largest opposition faction.
Beigin said he would not accept Weizman’s resignation because that was a matter for the party’s new Central Committee to decide. The convention’s Steering Committee elected a new 250-member Central Committee in which Beigin’s supporters have a 2-1 edge over Weizman’s followers. The election, after a stormy all-night session, climaxed a bitter four-day power struggle during which all efforts failed to heal the rift between Beigin and Weizman.
Weizman said be resigned because a party cannot function without “total harmony” between its leaders. He denied that he headed any faction. “I joined the movement because of its ideological line and I am not disappointed with that line,” he said in his resignation statement. The former Air Force commander, former Minister of Transport and a nephew of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, was supported by younger party elements and seemed to command a majority on the vital Steering Committee.
But this support dissolved after Beigin delivered an impassioned speech to the committee, charging that elements were trying to deprive him of his leadership. His personal charisma and his emotional appeal to veteran party members won the day. Two thirds of the new Central Committee is made up of Beigin supporters. Beigin himself was re-elected by the convention to the top leadership post. The convention closed with the adoption of resolutions reiterating the territorial unity of Israel and “Greater Israel.” a reference to the administered territories.