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Labor Party Kibbutz Groups Unite After 28 Year Split

The two major Lebor-oriented kibbutz movements in Israel agreed to re-unite over the weekend ending a 28-year-old-schism that occurred over issues which have long ceased to have any relevance for a majority of the members. The consolidation of kibbutz Hameuchad with the Ichud Hakvutzot VeHakibbutzim, was decided at their respective conventions, the former held at kibbutz Na’an in Golilee and the latter at Yifat. Both called on the Kibbutz Haartzimovement of Mapam to join with them to create a solid Labor kibbutz front. The new movement is called Hatenuah Hakibbutzit Homeuchedet- United Kibbutz Movement. Its constituent assembly will convene in October.

The split came about in 1951 when Mapai kibbutzim brake with Kibbutz Hameuchad and erged with the Chever Hakvutzot to form the Ichud Hakvutzot VeHakibbutzim. Pro-Achdut Avodab kibbutzim remained in the framework of the original movement. Those events sent shock-waves through the young state, then barely three years old. Families were divided by conflicting loyalties and many kibbutz financial enterprises had to be split. Eventually, Mapai and Achdut Haavodah settled their differences and merged to form the present Labor Party But their respective kibbutz movements remained separated for the next 15 years.

At both conventions it was the younger generation-many unborn when the split took place-who pressed for reunification. The decision was nearly unanimous, with only a handful of die-hards holding out. As a result the 64 kibbutzim of Kibbutz Hameuchad, with a population of 30.000 will join with Ichud to form a strong movement of 160 kibbutzim with a combined population of 175,000.

Both conventions dealt with current political issues. Resolutions were adopted to topple the present Likud government, proceed cautiously on the issue of settlements in the occupied Arab territories and to oppose any yielding to the Gush Emunim on that issue.

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