JERUSALEM, AUG. 16 -- The Israeli Cabinet remained paralyzed today over whether to continue the expensive development of an Israeli fighter plane, and for the seventh time postponed an expected vote on the issue.

The Cabinet is to try again to decide on the controversial Lavi warplane "in one or two weeks," a spokesman said. The United States last week openly opposed the Lavi, 90 percent of which is funded by American military aid.

"Apparently 12 Cabinet members are for and 12 are against," said Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. However, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin -- who opposes the project -- said he thought a vote might have resulted in a 13-11 decision to kill the Lavi.

After six hours of debate, Peres and his coalition partner, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, decided to put off the decision in hopes of finding a consensus, the Cabinet spokesman said. Rabin's observation raised a question about whether they had joined to postpone a decision in the face of defeat. A tie vote in the 24-member Cabinet would continue the project.

The Lavi vote has been postponed seven times, making it one of the most paralytic issues for the deeply divided government here. However, the issue of the Lavi cuts across the party lines that normally split the Cabinet. For example, political rivals Peres and Shamir support the project, but are opposed by their respective lieutenants, Defense Minister Rabin of the Labor Party and Finance Minister Moshe Nissim of the conservative Likud.

Newspaper reports described efforts by Shamir to forge a compromise, perhaps by continuing the project temporarily while seeking cost reductions. But it remained unclear how a decision might be reached. Rabin said after the meeting, "I can't see any 'open sesame' solution {or} new facts that can be added" to achieve a decision in the next two weeks.

The Lavi has dominated public attention here since last week's advice from the Reagan administration that the project -- at an estimated cost of $18 million per plane -- was economically unfeasible.