TEL AVIV (Mar. 31)
The National Religious Party voted today to remain in Premier Golda Meir’s coalition government despite bitter division within the party over the issue and strained relations, almost to the point of an open break, with Israel’s Chief Rabbinate. The NRP’s Central Committee voted 296-198 to approve the decision of the party’s Executive last month to enter the Cabinet. There were seven abstentions. All of the Central Committee’s 501 members participated in the voting.
The margin of approval–59-41 percent–was a fairly substantial one considering the intensive efforts made by the NRP Young Guard, the religious settlers and Orthodox leaders here and abroad to have the decision reversed. The deciding factor may have been the disclosure by Welfare Minister Michael Hazani that "new and grave developments" on the Syrian front had been reported at today’s Cabinet meeting. Hazani also said the political situation was serious and aggravating but offered no further elaboration. The NRP’s decision averted, at least for the time being, what could have been a major crisis for Mrs. Meir’s minority government.