TEL AVIV (Nov. 19)
Yitzhak Ben Aharon has accused his colleagues in the Labor Party of conspiring with “hostile elements outside Histadrut” to force his resignation, which he announced last night, as secretary general of Israel’s powerful trade union federation. The charge was contained in an 800-word letter of resignation which Ben Aharon submitted to the Histadrut Executive.
He said the campaign to oust him began almost as soon as he took office in 1969. “I endeavored to overcome the conspiracy and the efforts to undermine me from certain groups in my party, some of whom went so far as to join forces with hostile elements outside the Histadrut,” he wrote. But, he said, he was forced to resign “because of the force that was crystallized in the Party with the aid of outside elements to stop me from doing my work, seeking to get me involved in marginal complications in order to divert the struggle on matters of principle to a personal level.”
Ben Aharon, an outspoken “dove” and a frequent sharp critic of the government’s economic policies and Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir’s in particular, claimed that he was “punished for fighting for a more equitable division of national resources.” Aharon Yadlin, secretary general of the Labor Party, said this morning that Ben Aharon’s charges were baseless.
The Histadrut leader’s resignation came as no surprise. The view he expressed several months ago, that Israel should voluntarily withdraw from certain administered Arab territories before a peace treaty, was unpopular with a majority of his party.
His stock plunged further during the Yom Kippur War. He aroused the fury of the Likud opposition two weeks ago when a newspaper here published remarks attributed to him in an interview in New York that were highly critical of Gen. Ariel Sharon, founder of the Likud. Ben Aharon, who cut short his New York visit and returned to Tel Aviv, denied having made the remarks. There was no indication today who will replace him in the Histadrut leadership post.