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Jewish Agency Status Bill Withdrawn from Knesset; Action Ruled Legal

Prime Minister David Ben Gurion last night withdrew from the Israel Parliament the bill recommending the granting of a special status in Israel to the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency.

The Home Committee of the Parliament today discussed the government action and found it perfectly legal from the viewpoint of parliamentary procedure. The procedure provides that “the government is entitled to withdraw any bill introduced by them at whatever stage of deliberations.”

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned from reliable sources that the government may re-introduce the bill in the Parliament next Monday. It was indicated today that the government is interested in straightening out the matter as soon as possible. The issue will be discussed at a cabinet meeting on Sunday.

The request for the return of the bill was addressed by the Premier to Joseph Sprinzak, Speaker of the Parliament. The government was of the opinion that “incidental voting” on the measure, which took place Monday evening in the Parliament, “radically changed the law.”

The bill as originally presented by the government asked that the Jewish State recognize the World Zionist Organization as the “authorized agency” for the development and colonization of Israel. However, Monday’s vote which was taken at a poorly attended session of the Parliament, accorded the World Zionist Organization the status of “the representative organization of all the Jewish people.” The vote was 31 to 27, with 62 members of the Parliament abstaining.

Only two newspapers in Israel today reacted to the withdrawal of the bill by the government. Davar, which wholeheartedly supports the government, maintains that the granting to the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency of a status which would make them representative “of all the Jewish people” could bring not only great unpleasantness to the government, but may also alienate many Jewish circles who desire to assist in the upbuilding of the Jewish State no less than the Zionist Organization. Maariv, an afternoon paper, takes a different view and claims that the government’s action was “a surrender to the non-Zionist.”

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