Alignment, Likud Agree on May 17 Knesset Election; Knesset to Meet Wednesday to Discuss New Date

The governing Labor Alignment and the Likud agreed last night that the Knesset election would be May 17. The Alignment had originally planned to introduce a bill this week to hold the elections May 31 and Likud had recommended May 3. All bills to terminate the current Knesset and to decide to hold the election earlier than November, 1977 will be discussed tomorrow in the Knesset. President Ephraim Katzir continued meeting with leaders of various political parties. He met today with the Independent Liberal Party and yesterday with the National Religious Party. He will continue his consultations for the next few days.

Meanwhile, the Labor Party is intensifying efforts to keep Mapam from leaving the Alignment. Mapam is scheduled to make a decision at its convention Jan. 31. Premier Yitzhak Rabin is expected to meet soon with Meir Talmi, Mapam’s secretary general, and discuss the list of questions on policy that Mapam has presented the Labor Party. Mapam has said it will demand straightforward answers on Labor’s position, especially on the future of the West Bank.

The Labor leadership is also engaged in the struggle between Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres over who should be the party’s candidate for Premier. Supporters of both men are polling the 600 members of the party center who, if the election will take place May 17, will have to make a decision soon. There have been some suggestions that former Premier Golda Meir head the Labor Alignment candidates list as a unifying force. Mrs. Meir is more popular now than when she was in office.

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