Big Question in Israel: Will Mrs. Meir Remain in Office?

Israelis were pondering today whether Premier Golda Meir’s remarks on an American television interview yesterday indicated that she plans to remain in office after this year’s national elections, contrary to her often stated intention to retire. Res ponding to questions from newsmen on CBS-TV “Face The Nation,” Mrs. Meir said that her political future would be decided by her party.

The Labor Party leadership, fearing a bitter, struggle for succession, has been urging Mrs. Meir to stay on. Party officials took her television statement as an indication that she intends to do so and called it a “very valuable decision.”

Aharon Yadlin, the Party Secretary, said, “I always hoped Golda would respond to our members’ appeals since the State needs her.” But he said he was puzzled “why she had to announce her decision in New York.” He said it was possible that her American visit had added weight to her resolution to stay in office.

But the newspaper Maariv reported today that Mrs. Meir telephoned her party colleagues from New York last night to tell them that her remark, was for foreign consumption and that she firmly intends to retire when her term of office is up. According to Maariv,.Mrs. Meir said she made a deliberately evasive reply to the American newsmen because she didn’t think they had a right to intrude into Israel Labor Party affairs.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned from reliable sources that no such phone call was made by Mrs. Meir. The reaction of Labor Party leaders did not indicate that they had received any message from the Premier retracting or watering down her television remarks.

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