JERUSALEM (Apr. 7)
Veteran Cabinet Minister Yisrael Galili and Knesset Speaker Yisrael Yeshayahu were dropped today from Labor’s list of Knesset candidates in a vote by the party’s Central Committee. Others not elected at the meeting in Tel Aviv were Knesseters Ari Ankorion and Shalom Levin, also veteran party key men.
Those dropped were among the Laborites who, under an earlier ruling of the party’s National Convention, required a 60 percent majority vote in the Central Committee to be included on the candidate list because they had already served two terms or more in the Knesset. Galili, who is Minister-Without-Portfolio, fell narrowly short of the 60 mark, while Yeshayahu managed only 30-odd percent.
Among those easily re-elected were Defense Minister Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Yigal Allon and former Foreign Minister Abba Eban. The man who came out on top, with 92 percent, was popular Jerusalemite Yitzhak Navon, a Sephardic leader and chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. All the ministers except Galili were re-elected. Former Defense Minister Moshe Dayan got 69 percent.
Some years back Navon ran unsuccessfully for election by the Central Committee as a candidate for President of Israel. The party then preferred Ephraim Katzir. But Navon’s strong showing today, according to observers, virtually ensured him a Cabinet post after the elections–and high office if he chose to run for it again. (Navon also lost to Yeshayahu in the Labor Knesset faction for the post of Knesset Speaker.)
COMPLAINTS OVER 60% RULE
Immediately after the vote there was a welter of complaints against the new 60 percent rule–not only, as might have been expected, from the men who lost out, but also from others who won. “Nowhere in a democracy is length of service a handicap if the people of the country still want you,” Eban said. “Churchill served as an MP for more than 50 years and Gladstone for not much less.” Yeshayahu said the 60 percent barrier was “too high” and the rule as a whole “unfair.”
Another loser, veteran Haifa party leader MK Moshe Wertman pointed to the paradox that his party branch had overwhelmingly supported him for Knesset candidacy, and now the party Central Committee had thwarted the wishes “of hundreds of thousands of voters.” Galili’s reaction was not immediately known, but it was pointed out that he, too, was solidly supported by his party wing, the Kibbutz Hameuchad of Achdut Ha’ Avodah, and now finds himself stymied by the Central Committee.
Galili, 66, has been Minister-Without-Portfolio since 1964 and is known as the formulator of all delicate or important government documents. He was second in command in the pre-State Hagana hierarchy and active as leader of Achdut Ha’Avodah since then. He can still, theoretically, be appointed a minister in a new government since no minister except the Premier need by law be a Knesset member.