Eban Angered by Party’s Move

Former Foreign Minister Abba Eban left the Knesset in a huff Monday evening after learning that his Labor Alignment colleagues failed to elect him to a seat on the key Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Later, Labor Party leader Shimon Peres reportedly offered to yield his seat to Eban but other party members balked on grounds that it would be unseemly for the opposition leader not to be a member of one of the Knesset’s most important bodies.

Eban, who was slated to be Foreign Minister had Labor won the May 17 elections, was one of 13 candidates for the seven seats on the committee allotted to the Labor Alignment. When the Alignment Executive met Monday morning, it was unable to reach a consensus. A secret ballot was taken instead and the winners were Peres, former Premier Yitzhak Rabin, former Foreign Minister Yigal Allon, former Justice Minister Haim Zadok, former Minister of Commerce and Industry Haim Barlev, Yitzhak Navon and Meir Talmi of Mapam.

When Eban heard the results, he left the building and “slammed the door,” sources reported. Some party circles believe that the Alignment’s Knesset faction will eventually agree to let Peres resign from the committee in favor of Eban. To do otherwise would be sending Eban into political exile, they said.

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