Debate on Military Service Bill Opens in Knesset; Mapam Voices Opposition to Measure

Debate on a military service bill under which the Minister of Defense would be empowered to call men under arms without prior approval by the Israel Parliament began in the Knesset last night, with Mapam deputies voicing strong opposition to the measure.

Yaacov Riftin, Mapam leader in the Knesset, alleged that the bill was undemocratic and urged that the Israel Army should not be made up exclusively of professional soldiers, but should be a popular force with women subject to the same duties as men.

Yosef Saphir, mayor of Petach Tikvah and General Zionist deputy, told the Knesset that he was afraid the Army would be built along single party lines in view of the party affiliations of present Army commanders. Strenuous opposition to the enlistment of women in the armed forces of Israel was voiced by Minister of Welfare Rabbi I.M. Lewin and Rabbi Kalman Kahane, Agudah workers leader, who said that this was contrary to Jewish religious precepts.

Meanwhile, the Knesset approved a new tax to aid in the absorption of immigrants. The levy will affect persons with annual incomes of $900 or more. Finance Minister Eliezer Kaplan assured the Knesset that every cent received by the government through this channel will be used exclusively for immigrant absorption schemes.

Following strong insistence by Nathan Friedman-Yellin, Knesset spokesman for the Fighters Party, and Mapam deputies, the Israel parliament’s internal affairs committee decided to create a commission of inquiry to look into the report that Sheikh Abu Gosh, famed for his aid to the Sternists before the establishment of Israel and during the war last year, has disappeared following his release on bail after being charged with manslaughter. Reports current here also state that the Sheikh’s family has been driven out of Israel.

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