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U.S. Experts on International Law Comment Favorably on Proposed Israeli Constitution

Outstanding American authorities on international and constitutional law have commented favorably on the draft of the Israeli constitution, the full text of which was made public today in the American press, it was revealed this afternoon by Eliahu Epstein, Israeli envoy in Washington, in a statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The draft, prepared by Dr. Leo Kohn, counsellor of the Israeli Foreign Office, attracted wide interest in this country. It combines aspects of the American, French and British systems of government with some of the fundamentals of ancient Jewish law. It abolishes the death penalty, separates state and church, guarantees free access to Palestine’s Holy Places, establishes freedom of worship for all sects, draws no distinction among Jews, Christians and Moslems in their rights as citizens, and goes beyond any existing constitution–including that of the United States–in setting forth basic human rights.

The draft provides that no one should be subjected torture, flogging or humiliating punishment and prohibits the application of moral pressure or physical violence in the course of police interrogation. Freedom of speech and opinion is guaranteed. Censorship is unlawful, except in time of war or national emergency. No person may be extradited to any country where he is liable to be deprived of such rights as are guaranteed by the Israeli Constitution. Hebrew is the official language of Israel, but adequate facilities shall be given to Arab-speaking citizens for use of their language in the legislature, before courts and before administrative authorities.

Sabbath and the Jewish holidays are the official days of rest, but holy days of other religious denominations are recognized equally as days of rest for the members of such denominations. Every citizen has a right to social security and to health services by the state, which will also provide facilities for primary and secondary education for Israelis and Arabs in their own languages.

The President, according to the constitution, is to be elected for a period of five years by the Israeli Parliament, which is to have not less than 100 members. The Cabinet is to have not more than 15 members and is to be responsible to the Parliament. The Premier and his Cabinet must resign when they fall to get the support of a majority of the Parliament. Members of the Parliament are elected for four years.

ISRAELI PRECEPTS OF JUSTICE ARE THE SOME AS AMERICAN, EPSTEIN SAYS

“Whatever draft is finally adopted by our Constituent Assembly the Constitution of the Israeli state will undoubtedly be based on principles of democracy, of fullest freedom for the individual and of equality before law, with democratically elected governing bodies and no discrimination between citizens,” Epstein said in his statement. “There principles will in fact give expression to the tradition of Jewish law and reflect the way of life and of the progressive democratic Jewish society in Israel. Our precepts of moral and political justice are the same as those which gave liberty and independence to America and other freedom-loving nations of the world.

“To cell Dr. Kohn’s draft of the constitution ‘socialistic’ as has been erroneously suggested in one New York journal is both inaccurate and misleading. This draft includes all guarantees of a society based on full respect for individual property and free enterprise,” the Israeli envoy pointed out.

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