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Mapai’s Non-confidence Vote in Lavon to Be Considered by Histadrut on Thursday

February 6, 1961
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The central committee of the Histadrut, Israel’s Labor Federation, decided at an emergency session today to convene the Histadrut’s executive on Thursday to act on the vote of non-confidence in Pinhas Lavon as Histadrut secretary-general which was approved yesterday at a turbulent session of the central committee of the Mapai party.

The Mapai central committee, in voting to force Mr. Lavon’s ouster, showed to the wishes of David Ben-Gurion as one of the conditions he set for accepting the task of forming a new Government to replace the one he toppled last Tuesday by resigning. The vote was 159 for the motion, 96 against and five abstentions. Twenty persons eligible to vote did not attend.

The Mapai has a 55 percent majority on the Histadrut executive of 505 men and it was expected that unless some of the Mapai members join the minority parties, which are certain to reject the non-confidence motion, Mr. Lavon’s ouster as secretary-general would be approved. The emergency meeting today of the Histadrut central committee was called after receipt of an urgent cable from the Mapam, one of the minority parties in the Histadrut, which demanded a vote of confidence in Mr. Lavon.

Mr. Lavon, who apparently had decided to force a vote on his ouster rather than to resign after the vote yesterday, reacted to the Mapai vote with the assertion that he considered the 40 percent vote against his ouster a”moral victory” both for the Mapai party and for himself. He said that despite the pressure exerted on Mapai central committee members, 86 “had the courage”to vote against the ouster. He added that not all of those who voted yesterday were eligible to vote.


Two of the former left-wing partners in the former coalition, Achdut Avodah and Mapam, indicated they supported Mr. Lavon fully and would back him in the Histadrut. The Histadrut leader received flowers and cables of support last night after the vote.

The vote of the Mapai central committee yesterday touched off the first violence in the long dispute between Ben-Gurion and Lavon. Baton-swinging police charged a crowd of 1,000 demonstrators at the Ohel theater where the meeting was held. The demonstrators bore placards protesting against the meeting. Later police officials said nine persons were arrested and released on bail.

Neither Mr, Lavon nor Mr. Ben-Gurion attended the Mapai meeting at which a sharp debate took place on the whole issue. The two main speakers against the ouster proposal were Moshe Sharett, who had been Prime Minister when the mishap occurred, and Prof. Nathan Rotten-streich, dean of humanities at Hebrew University and the leading ideologist of the Mapai party.

Mr.Sharett argued strongly that Mr.Lavon should be allowed some mistakes in his long struggle to free himself of blame for the mishap and that Mr.Ben-Gurion had no right to decide who should represent the Mapai and the Histadrut.

Giora Josephthal, Labor Minister and Levi Eshkol, Finance Minister, spoke for the motion. They argued that Mr. Lavon’s differences with Mapai leadership made it impracticable for him to be retained as Mapai representative in the Histadrut. Mr. Eshkol, whose switch from the middle-roaders to the anti-Lavon faction was decisive in the ouster decision, also charged that Mr. Lavon had allowed himself to become a weapon for the Mapai’s foes.

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