Labor Party Mulling Whether to Re-admit Dayan

The Labor Party, rent by internal dissension and personal quarrels since its narrow defeat in the Knesset elections last June, now faces another divisive issue — whether to re-admit former Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan to its fold. Dayan, who built his political career in the Labor Party, defected shortly before the 1977 elections and joined Premier Menachem Begin’s first coalition government but never joined Likud.

He quit Begin’s Cabinet in October, 1979 because of sharp policy differences with the Premier and presently heads the new Telem faction which holds only two seats in the Knesset. Dayan’s mercurial nature has earned him the distrust of many of his former Labor colleagues and his moderately hawkish views are anathema to Labor doves and Mapam, Labor’s Alignment partner.

But party chairman Shimon Peres reportedly supports efforts to bring Dayan back to Labor. The two Telem mandates would give his party 50 Knesset seats, one more than Likud. Being the largest single parliamentary faction might gain some key committee chairmanships for Labor but it would still be II votes short of the majority necessary to govern should the Likud government fall on a no-confidence motion.

The Dayan issue has been the subject of heated discussion in the party’s political bureau which would have to make a recommendation. But the bureau itself is in disarray because its election and composition are a matter for dispute at the moment. Mapam has served notice, meanwhile, that it might leave the Labor Alignment if Dayan is re-admitted to the party, thereby strengthening its hawkish wing.

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