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Dispute over Abolishing Ministry

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Leon Dulzin’s elucidation of his plans to abolish the Absorption Ministry and incorporate its functions into the Jewish Agency framework brought him into sharp conflict today with his Likud colleague David Levi who just took office as Minister of Absorption in the Begin government. Dulzin, a member of Likud’s Liberal Party wing, is presently Jewish Agency treasurer. He is Likud’s candidate for the chairmanship of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives and is considered virtually certain to be elected to that office at the 29th World Zionist Congress convening here in February, 1978.

Levi, who is a member of Premier Menachem Begin’s Herut wing of Likud, took strong exception to remarks by Dulzin in interviews with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the newspaper Davar. On assuming his Cabinet post this morning, he said he considered the Absorption Ministry an essential and permanent department of government and, if anything, would seek to expand its authority. He noted that some of his Ministry’s functions are duplicated by the Jewish Agency’s aliya department and that this situation must be ended. He said he wanted all functions connected with absorption to come under the purview of the Absorption Ministry.

HOREV REPORT RECOMMENDS ABOLISHMENT

Dulzin, on the other hand, told the JTA that he intends to abolish the ministry in accordance with the recommendations of the Horev Commission, a panel headed by Amos Horev, which studied the problems of consolidating immigration and absorption activities. The commission proposed that the Absorption Ministry and the Agency’s aliya department be replaced by an autonomous aliya and absorption authority which would be responsible to the Prime Minister but would be headed by the Jewish Agency-WZO chairman.

According to Dulzin, Begin informed Levi that his ministry was temporary and that he intended to carry out the Horev Commission’s recommendations. Levi was Likud’s candidate for Secretary General of Histadrut and would have relinquished his ministerial office had Likud won the Histadrut elections on Tuesday. Likud was defeated by Labor and the Absorption Ministry was formally handed over to Levi at brief ceremonies here this morning.

Levi said Begin did not tell him specifically that his appointment was temporary. He said he had read the Horev report and could not conceive abolition of the Absorption Ministry because its functions were of such national significance that they should be controlled directly by the government. He said he intended to meet with Dulzin in the next few days to discuss the issue. He noted that the duplication of activities between the Absorption Ministry and the Jewish Agency has been a controversial issue for a long time and was not resolved by the previous government.

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