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Mapam Opposes Peres’ Bid to Oust Rabin As Labor Party Leader

Mapam is on record today as opposing Defense Minister Shimon Peres in his bid to oust Premier Yitzhak Rabin as leader of the Labor Party. The leader of the Labor Party is also in effect the leader of the Labor Alignment in which Mapam is one of the two partners.

The Mapam convention, in agreeing by a 527-313 vote last night to remain in the Alignment, did not only make it conditional on the Labor Party accepting the recommendation of its political subcommittee that Israel express willingness for territorial changes on all fronts. It also set a condition that Labor nominate for Premier a man who can identify himself with this policy and be trusted to implement it when he comes into office. This was seen as official opposition to Peres who is considered a hardliner on the issues of the territories. Mapam also demanded that the Labor Party be ready to move toward a socialist, economic policy, a softer attitude toward Israeli Arabs and the creation of Labor-Mapam forums at which policies could be worked out. The Labor Party’s answer will come at its convention Feb. 22.

OPPOSITION FOLLOWS HEATED DISCUSSION

The decision to oppose Peres came after a heated discussion. Meir Talmi. Mapam’s secretary general, who supported the resolution, said “No one can demand of us that we shall not have a say as to the candidate for Premier because there is a political significance to the man who will lead the list.” Talmi stressed the opposition was not “personal” but “political.”

The delegates opposed to intervening in the Labor Party struggle, led by veteran party leader Meir Yaari, argued that it was the Labor leadership that was at stake and it was up to Labor alone to settle it.

Both Rabin and Peres sent cables to the Mapam convention. Rabin stressed the importance of continuing the Alignment and urged Mapam to look at the Alignment itself rather than Labor’s leadership struggle.

Peres said he considered the Mapam convention a trial not only of Mapam but of the entire Labor movement and its position in the nation, the government, and the Histadrut. He said there was no future for the movement without discussions just as there was no substitute for the democratic system.

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