TEL AVIV (May. 19)
The results of the Knesset elections have cast serious doubts over the prospects for continued Labor Party hegemony in Histadrut, Israel’s giant labor federation, which holds its elections on June 21. Although Labor’s Executive Committee approved the nomination of incumbent Yeruham Meshel to stand for re-election as Histadrut Secretary General, many Laborites attending the meeting here today expressed preference for a stronger man.
With Likud now the largest political party in Israel, Labor faces an uphill fight to retain leadership of the trade union organization and its vast complex of social services and industries. Histadrut embraces union members of every faction, from Likud and religious workers to the Black Panthers and Communists.
Its leadership structure, however, has always been a mirror image of the Israeli government and, before that, of the Zionist parties composing the Jewish community in Palestine. Since Histadrut was founded in 1920 it has been dominated by the Labor Party or Labor’s predecessors.
Labor is fearful of losing that position to Likud which is expected to nominate an aggressive Knesset member, Yoram Aridor, for the office of Secretary General. Therefore, many want a candidate more dynamic than Meshel to head its Histadrut election list next month. On the other hand, concern was voiced that changing leadership so short a time before the elections could spell defeat.
LABOR PARTY VIEWS ITS FUTURE
The Labor Executive heard party leader Shimon Peres explain what he believes to have been the causes of Tuesday’s unexpected and painful repudiation of the Labor Party by the voters. His post mortem brought little consolation. But Peres drew applause when he vowed that Labor will not enter a coalition with Likud because of the unbridgeable gap between them on political and economic issues. He spoke of the need to rebuild the party after its defeat and to prepare for the next elections which, Peres believes, will be held in two years, not four, under a new system embodying electoral reforms.
Meanwhile, the 33rd Labor Party member of Knesset was announced as lmri Ron. His name was not immediately available yesterday because of a last-minute change in the number of Labor Knesset seats from 32 to 33.