Eban Won’t Seek Knesset Speaker Post

Former Foreign Minister Abba Eban withdrew his candidacy for the office of Knesset Speaker today after Labor Party support swung to his rival, Shlomo Hillel.

Eban, who has been serving as acting Speaker for the past three weeks, announced over the weekend that he would seek the job permanently. He reversed himself, he explained today, when it became clear that he would have to compete with Hillel. A contest between them would hurt Labor’s chances to win the post against the Likud candidate, who has not yet been named.

Eban was originally approached by Labor Party leaders to stand for Speaker because he would have the support of the Communists and the Progressive List for Peace which are necessary for a majority vote. Hillel, who claimed he would not have presented his own candidacy had he known Eban would run, said yesterday that it was too late to back out.

The party is backing Hillel unanimously although he will not have Communist and Progressive support. A former Interior Minister , Hillel was in charge of the police on March 30, 1976 when six Israeli Arabs were killed in demonstrations over land expropriations in Galilee.

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