Israel Parliament Debates Picketing of Yementte Immigrant Camp by Histadrut Workers

After a stormy debate in which the two major labor parties–the Mapai and the left-wing Socialist Mapam–united to oppose the right-wing Herut, the Israel Parliament today voted to refer to committee the question of the recent protest demonstrations by organized workers of the Petach Tikvah area against immigrants in a neighboring Yemenite camp.

The demonstrations, which last week reached the proportion of a near-riot, with police dispersing the picketers–members of Histadrut unions–who had set up road blocks around the camp to keep immigrants from leaving, developed over the immigrants accopting employment at rates below the union scale prevalent in the area.

Labor Minister Golda Myerson said that the government was attempting to straighten out the situation and deplored any attempt to make political capital of the issue. She added that “no citrus grower will receive government aid if a single unorganized worker is found in his grove.”

Israel Bar-Yehuda, Mapam deputy, making common cause with the government, attacked the local citrus ranchers for “exploiting the newcomers and lowering the standard of labor.” He demanded the creation of a special Parliamentary committee to investigate the situation.

During his speech the right-wing deputies interrupted frequently in protest, while Yoseph Saphir, General Zionist deputy and mayor of Petach Tikvah, objected to Bar-Yehuda’s “wholesale accusations against the growers” and demanded a special discussion of the national labor situation. After the vote, which upheld the government 48-20, Herut deputies accused the government of turning the immigrant camps into “concentration camps” and asked: “Why don’t you stop immigration?”

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