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Abba Eban Excluded from Labor List; Party Favors Younger Candidates

The Labor Party produced its Knesset election list Wednesday with a stunning surprise: the omission of one of its best-known and revered members, Abba Eban.

The list as a whole affirmed the party’s striving for a fresh image, reflected by new faces and young blood.

Eban, former foreign minister, elder states man and current chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, failed to win a place on the first batch of 10 candidates chosen Wednesday morning by the party’s 1,260-member Central Committee.

He was defeated for a spot on the second batch of 10 and refused to stand for the third batch, whose election to the Knesset is problematic.

It was a humiliating rejection of Eban, whom many Jews consider to have been Israel’s most eloquent spokesman when he served as its ambassador to Washington and to the United Nations.

Eban is a political dove. But according to party insiders, his elimination from the election list was due to other factors, such as his frequent absences abroad, his detachment from party affairs and probably most important, his age, which is 73.

While Eban is still regarded with great respect, party activists were anxious to keep open as many spots as possible for young candidates.

The first seven candidates constitute Labor’s top leadership, whose spots were guaranteed by election rules, not by the Central Committee. They can be certain of election.

THE TOP SEVEN

The ticket is headed by Shimon Peres, currently foreign minister, who would be premier in a Labor-led government.

He is followed by Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin; Education Minister Yitzhak Navon, a former president of Israel; Histadrut Secretary-General Yisrael Kessar; Knesset Speaker Shlomo Hillel; Uzi Baram, secretary-general of the Labor Party; and Ezer Weizman, a minister without portfolio who heads the Yahad faction, now part of Labor.

The first list of 10 candidates selected by the Central Committee is headed by Energy Minister Moshe Shahal, followed by Ora Namir, chairwoman of the Knesset Labor and Welfare Committee. They will appear in the eighth and ninth spots respectively on the party’s list in November.

Health Minister Shoshana Arbeli-Almoslino and Minister of Economic Coordination Gad Yaacobi will fill the 10th and 11th spots, followed by Absorption Minister Yaacov Tsur and Minister-Without-Portfolio Mordechai Gur, a former chief of staff.

New faces include Mayor Amir Peretz of Sderot, Avrum Burg, Mayor Avraham Shohat of Arad, Professor Shimon Shetreet, Mayor Eli Dayan of Ashkelon, and Yossi Beilin, political director general of the Foreign Ministry and a close aide to Peres.

Political observers said the Central Committee had plainly sought to inject a careful hawk-dove balance in the selection of the first batch of 10 names.

But the second batch shows a clear slant toward the dovish position. Peretz, Burg, Dayan, Arad and Beilin are all considered liberal on the issue of territorial compromise.

Perhaps the most outspoken dove in the present Labor Knesset faction also made it to the first batch of 10. He is Haim Ramon, who is the youngest member in the present Knesset and the ranking Labor member of its Finance Committee.

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