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New Knesset Convenes Today; Talks on Formation of Cabinet Continue

November 30, 1959
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No new Cabinet will be introduced to the newly-elected Knesset when it convenes tomorrow as the fourth Parliament since Israel’s existence. Premier David Ben-Gurion is still continuing his negotiations for the formation of a coalition Cabinet.

Several Cabinet posts held by prominent Israeli leaders during the last coalition were definitely vacant. One of these is the post of Foreign Minister. Mr. Ben-Gurion attempted this week-end to convince Mrs. Golda Meir to change her mind. She has consistently stated that she will be only a member of Parliament, declining to hold the Foreign Ministry portfolio any longer. Mr. Ben-Gurion is understood to have urged her to accept the Foreign Ministry portfolio again, offering to substitute for her for a six-month period, while she takes a rest from the arduous Foreign Ministry duties. Mrs. Meir has reportedly told the Prime Minister that her declination is final.

Minister of Agriculture Kaddish Luz presented his resignation today. He thus becomes eligible for election to the post of Speaker of the new Knesset. It is believed that he will be elected without opposition. Minister of Labor Mordechai Namir will give up his portfolio to become Mayor of Tel Aviv. Minister of Education Zalman Aranne and Minister of Social Welfare Peretz Naftali are not inclined to continue holding their present portfolios. The fate of another Mapai Cabinet member, Minister of Police Behor Shitreet, is not yet known. His Ministry is expected to be incorporated in another portfolio.

The National Religious Party, including the Mizrachi and Hapoel Hamizrachi, emerged today as a factor in the negotiations for the formation of the new coalition. Leaders of the party met with Mr. Ben-Gurion this afternoon. A special committee of the Mapai party had initiated the meeting. Between the general election on November 3 and today, there was studious avoidance by members of Mapai of even mentioning the religious group as a possible coalition partner.

The turn in the status of the religious group is said to be the result of the conference held by Mr. Ben-Gurion and Rabbi J. L. Maimon. The rabbi, known as “the grand old man of Mizrachi,” reportedly persuaded Mr. Ben Gurion to make peace with Moshe Shapiro, the former Cabinet member, and leader of Hapoel Hamizrachi, who left the Cabinet during the quarrel with Mr. Ben Gurion over the issue about “Who Is a Jew?” Neither the members of the religious group, nor the members of Mapai, issued any statement after today’s conference, saying merely that “the talks were fruitful.”

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