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Formation of ‘debating Society’ by Dayan Seen As Start of New Faction

September 7, 1977
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The formation of a “debating society” by Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and his supporters is arousing concern in Israel’s three major parties that the group may be the embryo of a new political faction aimed at enhancing Dayan’s position in the government and eventually propelling him to national leadership.

The initiators of the group, who include some prominent members of the Labor Alignment, Likud and the Democratic Movement for Change (DMC) deny this and insist that the “debating society,” as they call it, will be limited to discussions of vital policy issues that confront Israel.

They claim that the present government’s policies in foreign affairs, defense and relations with the Arabs enjoy wider support than is reflected in Likud’s narrow Knesset majority. They have extended invitations to some 500 members of various parties and of the kibbutz and moshavim movements to attend the inaugural meeting of the group on Saturday, Sept. 10 at Kfar Hamaccabiah in Ramat Gan.


But strong resistance has been encountered. Prof. Yigael Yadin, leader of the DMC, criticized the group and warned that any DMC member who joined it was violating a party rule forbidding members to join other political bodies. He referred to the Sept. 10 meeting as a proposed convention and declared there was no doubt as to its political character. But Israel Granit of the DMC said membership involved no political obligation.

The La’am (State List) faction of Likud is split, although one of its leaders, Likud MK Zalman Shoval, is among the organizers of the Dayan-led group. Other Likud MKs-Amnon Lin, Ehud Ulmert and Yigal Cohn-said they would not attend the inaugural meeting to which they have been invited.

Minister of Commerce and Industry Yigal Horowitz of Likud said he might attend just to hear what the people have to say. But Laborite Aharon Harel who heads Histadrut’s Organization Department and was one of the Dayan forum’s organizers, said that he would withdraw from it because it seemed like the beginning of a new political faction and he did not want to hurt the Labor Party.


Labor seems to be the most agitated by formation of the new group. The party issued a statement last Friday urging all members to avoid participating in the Sept. 10 meeting which, it claimed, was aimed at undermining the Labor Party. Labor is still smarting from its May 17 election defeat and the defection of Dayan who was elected on the Labor Alignment list but quit to become Likud’s Foreign Minister.

Dayan still has a substantial following in Labor ranks, especially among members of the former Rafi faction. He has not joined Likud but remains an independent one-man Knesset faction and his former colleagues are anxious to find out which way he will “jump.” Alignment leader Shimon Peres is understood to be keeping a close watch on the new forum.

Dayan has not been formally designated its leader but he will open and summarize the first debate. The subject will be the policies Israel should follow “leading to Geneva.” Although Dayan and other organizers insist they have no intention to “break up” the existing parties, Shoval would not rule out the possibility that a new political party eventually may emerge. He said he expected many members of the moshavim movement and Labor’s kibbutz movement (Ichud Hakvutzot Vehakibbutzim) to attend the Kfar Hammaccabiah meeting.

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