JERUSALEM (Jan. 9)
Premier David Ben Gurion told the people of Israel last night that the right-wing Herut Party, assisted by the Communists, are plotting against the present regime in the country and that the possibility of assassinations of members of the Israeli Cabinet by terrorists is not excluded. However, he emphasized that the government had sufficient power to fight off any attempt on the part of any group to impose its rule by violence.
“As Premier and as Minister of Defense I see it my duty to tell the nation of the gravity of the treacherous plot opened yesterday by the Irgun Zvai Leumi assisted by the Communists here,” Mr. Ben Gurion said, referring to the riot in front of the Parliament on Monday. “I promise the nation–and I emphasize it–that all measures will be taken to safeguard the sovereignty of the parliament, the existence of democracy in Israel, the freedom of the people and their right to decide by a majority vote.”
Speaking on a nationwide broadcast, Mr. Ben Gurion declared that a “criminal hand was raised last night against the Knesset’s sovereignty and a start was made to ruin Israel’s democracy.” The demonstrators, he declared, had intimated that “not a government chosen by the nation but men of violent intent and political murderers will decide Israel’s policy.” He described the demonstrators who attacked the Knesset building as a “wild, incited mob of Irgunists and Communists.”
PLACES RESPONSIBILITY ON BEIGIN; TAKES THIS THREAT SERIOUSLY
Mr. Ben Gurion placed responsibility for the day of rioting in which hundreds of police and civilians were hurt on Mr. Beigin, “the head and organizer of a revolt.” Quoting from the Herut newspaper, Premier Ben Gurion said that the Herut leader had incited the demonstrators in Zion Square, telling them that when the government had fired against an Irgun vessel in Tel Aviv harbor in 1948 he had ordered his followers not to fight the government, but that now Begin had said: “I order yes. This is a war of life and death.”
The Premier then declared: “I do not underestimate Beigin’s announcement that he is preparing for a war of life and death, and I have no illusions against whom those threats are directed, and I also know that it is not very difficult to kill members of the government which I have the honor to head, and it is no secret to me who is the first target of Beigin’s war plans.
“I see it as my duty to warn the nation not to panic and not to fear whether the government has enough power and resources to prevent its domination by hooligans and political murderers–the police and army of a freedom-loving people is a sufficient and efficient guarantee that an insane and criminal plot by hooligans will be frustrated. Israel will not be converted into a Spain or Syria.
“The profane fascist ideology in its various forms, from right to left, an ideology of imposing a minority will by terror will not succeed, will not be permitted to ruin the nation’s freedom and sovereignty. There is no ground for panic, but I will not, I am forbidden from deceiving the nation that the danger is not small.”
Asserting that the majority of the utterances of the leaders of the Irgun Zvai Leumi, dissident underground group of the Mandatory period, and the Herut are “no more than empty threats,” the Premier maintained that “this time” one must take their words seriously. “I also do not underrate the physical courage of the Irgun, and I know that they do not shrink from arrests and punishment,” he continued, “therefore I say this time the danger is great and Beigin’s threat serious.”
He concluded with an appeal to the Israeli people to guard “the law and the state’s sovereignty” pointing out again that the defense of the state is in the hands of the police force and the army, both of which are controlled by the government which is determined to maintain law and order. He again warned that no one must dare take the law into his own hands.