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Israel Parliament Votes Confidence in Government’s Rationing Policy; Strike Wanes

A vote of confidence in the Israel Government’s policy of imposing shoe and clothing rationing was cast today in the Knesset. The parliament, by a vote of 57 to 36, expressed approval of the government’s action.

At the same time the parliament took notice of the government’s decision to appoint a non-party committee comprising merchants, industrialists and representatives of cooperatives to study and report on the effects of the rationing ordinance.

“The Knesset declares that the rationing of footwear and clothing is part of the government policy for the economic recovery of the state and takes notice of the government decision to nominate a special committee,” the parliament’s decision states.

Earlier, the presidium of the parliament, composed of representatives of the groups which form the coalition Cabinet, met and decided in favor of amending the rationing law which provoked a nationwide strike of storekeepers. The decision was taken in order to avoid a crisis in the coalition Cabinet.

The groceries and the restaurants which joined the merchants strike yesterday reopened today. But the president of the Merchants Association announced today that other stores will not reopen until Premier David Ben Gurion announces in the parliament that the government is ready for a compromise on the rationing law.

Leaders of the Israel Chamber of Commerce and of the Merchants Association last night addressed a huge mass meeting in Tel Aviv at which they charged that the government decision to introduce rationing of shoes and clothing actually aims at the liquidation of the middle class and the destruction of private enterprise.

Following the vote in parliament today, leaders of the Merchants Association stated that the owners of stores selling clothing, footwear and general commodities will continue to remain closed until a satisfactory arrangement is reached between representatives of the storekeepers and the Ministry of Supply for a better application of the newly-decreed rationing system.

Winding up the Knesset debate, Minister of Supply Dov Joseph defended the rationing ordinance in a two-hour speech. Premier Ben Gurion then took the floor and condemned the merchants strike as “ineffective and without moral justification.” He added that the strike was not successful because the government would not yeild to such pressure and said it was not morally justifiable since the demands for abolition of rationing are not compatible with the Jewish state’s economic situation, whose “paramount tasks” he described as defense, absorption and immigration.

“Since the inception of the state,” the Premier continued, “we absorbed 430,000 immigrants and built 40,000 housing units.” He then asked: “Where is the flow of capital from America or the flow of youth and experts from America?” Defending the government’s rationing policy, he said: “This is neither a Socialist nor a capitalist state, since we encourage private enterprise.”

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