Presidential Race Narrows Down to Tsur and Navon

The contest for the presidency of Israel appeared today to have narrowed down to a two-man race between Yaacov Tsur, president of the Jewish National Fund, and Yitzhak Navon, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. The third candidate most frequently mentioned, Supreme Court Justice Eliahu Mani, is no longer believed to be a major contender.

The ruling Labor Party will shortly announce its candidate and the Knesset will elect a new president in May to succeed Zalman Shazar. Tsur has already announced his willingness to run. Navon is expected to state his intentions later this week but private sources said today it is almost certain that he will run for the office. Most observers believe that Navon, who is a member of the Sephardic community and is immensely popular in the Knesset, would win easily unless Premier Golda Meir throws her considerable influence behind Tsur.

The National Religious Party which is considering nominating State Controller Itzhak Nebenzahl or Hebrew University Prof. Ephraim Uhrbach, both Orthodox Jews, has indicated that it would support Navon inasmuch as its own nomination would be no more than a token gesture. The NRP indicated that it would also support Tsur if he won the nomination, though he was clearly their second choice. The opposition Gahal Party, which had leaned toward Judge Mani, is believed prepared to support Navon.

El Al and the Rumanian airline, Tarom, will increase the number of weekly flights from Lod to Bucharest from seven to 11 this summer in order to provide transportation for an expected increase in the number of Israeli tourists visiting Rumania. George Dimitrou, director general of the Rumanian International Tourist Bureau, said at a press conference in Tel Aviv that 12,000 Israelis are expected to visit Rumania this year compared to 10,000 last year. He said his bureau has prepared special tours for Israelis and was alert to security problems.

Mayor Asher Azar of Eilat, wants to extend his town’s limits by some 25 kilometers-which would take it across the old demarcation line into Sinai.

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