Protection Bill for Israel Parliament Passes First Reading

The Israel Parliament last night passed the first reading of a bill providing for the "immunity of the Knesset buildings." The legislation resulted directly from the Herut-inspired anti-government demonstrations of January 7 when Parliament began its discussion of direct negotiations with Germany for reparations claims totalling $1,500,000,000.

The measure defines provisions for the maintenance of order within the Knesset chamber, within the building and within the square on which the building is located. It gives the Speaker of the House power to appoint sergeants-at-arms to maintain order in the chamber and empowers him to either allow or prohibit the gathering of crowds or the holding of demonstrations in the square. He is given authority to order the Attorney General to bring to trial persons responsible for disorder in the Knesset.

The Knesset is also preparing to discuss a bill providing penalties for attacks on the police. A request by General Zionist and Mapam deputies for a debate on Israel’s position vis-a-vis the United Nations General Assembly was met by a statement by Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett that the entire matter would be discussed after the Assembly concludes its session.

The Herut Party yesterday began its announced boycott of Parliamentary sessions in solidarity with Menahem Beigin, party leader, who has been suspended from Parliament until after the Passover recess for his role in the January 7 demonstrations. No Herut deputy attended the session of any of the Parliamentary committees yesterday.

Meanwhile, Mr. Beigin today denounced the "Mapai-Religious Bloc coalition" which "expelled" him from Parliament and called his three-month suspension from that body an "act of political and moral cowardice." The right-wing leader charged that he was suspended without trial because the "Ben Gurion regime" fears to face an independent court. He said that the Knesset rules committee had acted as "accusers-witnesses-judges" in " sentencing " him without asking him to state his case.

He also said that his suspension–an act which he insisted was unprecedented in any free democracy–was a violation of the basic civil rights of the citizens who had elected him to Parliament. He pledged continuation of the battle against the government’s policy of direct negotiations with Germany despite the fact that he had been "deprived of the Knesset platform."

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