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Opposition Parties Attack Sharett and Israel Foreign Policy in Knesset Debate

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An all-out debate on foreign policy began in the Knesset here last night and continued today following an address by Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett in which he expressed the government’s willingness to accept any solution and give any guarantees for the security of the Holy Places in Jerusalem.

In the opening stages of the debate representatives of the General Zionists, Mapam and Herut attacked the government and Mr. Sharett for its recent setback in the United Nations, while deputies of the Mapai and Religious Bloc spoke up for the government.

The bitterest attack came from Menachem Beigin, head of the Herut, who demanded that Mr. Sharett and “all those responsible for the government’s policy” resign. The former commander of the Irgun Zvai Leumi charged that the government had failed to liberate the entire country when it could have done so. “If preparations had been made at the proper time less blood would have been shed and Jerusalem would be entirely in Jewish hands,” he asserted.

PACT WITH TRANSJORDAN OPPOSED BY HERUT AND MAPAM

The Herut deputy stated flatly that “it appears that Ben Gurion prefers to see the Holy Places guarded by Arab soldiers.” He also opposed the reported peace treaty with Transjordan which he labelled a “Pex Britannica in the Middle East,” and which he predicted would lead Israel to disaster.

Yakov Riftin, one of the leaders of the Mapam Party, criticized Minister Sharett’s foreign policy as “one-sided” and entered his protest against a “preferential treaty” with King Abdullah. He took particular exception to Abdullah’s reported demand for a Mediterranean seaport, and warned that a treaty with Transjordan means a treaty with Britain.” He opposed any cuts in Israel’s frontiers and demanded the development of Jerusalem and its conversion into Israel’s capital.

Simuel Mikunis, Communist leader, said the Israel Cabinet is “ostranging itself from the Eastern democracies.” Like the Mapam and Herut spokesmen, he warned that peace with Abdullah would mean a pact with Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin and “Western imperialism.” He demanded that Israel’s foreign policy should seek closer ties with the Eastern European nations which, he said, alone guarantee peace, democracy and economic development.

Before the debate began, Dr. Jacob Gil of the General Zionists, asked the Premier and Finance Minister Eliezer Kaplan if it was not in the interest of the state to prohibit the separate Histadrut campaign in the United States. The Premier’s reply was that “Israel sovereignty does not extend to the United States.” A Mapam request that the Knesset add to its agenda discussion of a bill ordering the British-owned Haifa refineries to resume operations was referred to the Parliamentary Finance Committee.

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