TEL AVIV (Aug. 30)
Efforts to form a broad non-Labor alignment to confront Premier Golda Meir’s Labor Alignment in the Oct. 29 Knesset elections appeared to have collapsed today. They foundered on a bitter dispute between Gahal, the largest and most powerful of the opposition parties, and the tiny Free Center faction over the number of candidates the latter was to have on the non-Labor election lists.
Some observers said the non-Labor front was doomed from the start–a promising idea whose time had not come. Shmuel Tamir, of the Free Center, said the failure simply proved that Gahal was never serious about unifying the opposition parties. Two retired generals–Ezer Weizman and Arye Sharon–of Gahal who thought they had reached a compromise with Tamir only to have it rejected by the Gahal Executive, indicated they were disillusioned with polities.
Negotiations to form a non-Labor alignment of Gahal, the Free Center, the State List and other factions were tortuous from the start. But after weeks of bargaining most difficulties seemed to have been overcome. The various factions, for example, agreed to disagree on certain sensitive issues of government policy and religious matters and it seemed likely that an election platform acceptable to all could be hammered out.
PRACTICAL ISSUES UNDO ALIGNMENT
But the practical Issue of election lists proved the new alignment’s undoing. Tamir demanded that his faction which has two seats in the present Knesset be given four places among the first 32 on the alignment’s election list. Under Israel’s system of proportional representation, the candidates closest to the top of the list are most assured of election.
Gahal objected, but Weizman and Sharon look it upon themselves to negotiate privately with Tamir. The latter finally agreed to accept three places among the first 30 names on the list but insisted that the places be near the top. Today the Gahal Executive voted 11-3 against the deal. Gahal leader Menachem Beigin accused Tamir of dictating ultimatums.
Sharon, who had initiated the idea of a non-Labor alignment, admitted that his long years in military service left him unacquainted with the realities of political life. He hinted that he might withdraw from politics altogether. Weizman said that if the Free Center is not in the alignment the alignment would be a fiction.