Israel Cabinet Receives Vote of Confidence at Knesset Reopening

The Israel Parliament resumed its session today after a lengthy summer recess and promptly gave the Ben Gurion Government, as recently reshuffled, a vote of confidence. The vote was 56 to support the government, 36 against and eight abstentions.

The session was opened by Premier Ben Gurion who, in a short report, stated that Agudas Israel leader Rabbi I.M. Lewin had resigned as Minister of Welfare and that Rabbi Mordecai Nurok of the Mizrachi had entered the Cabinet as Minister of Posts, Telegraph and Telephone. The Premier also indicated that he might have further Cabinet changes to bring to the Knesset in the near future. He also read an exchange of letters on the resignation which had passed between Rabbi Lewin and himself.

In the course of the debate which preceded the vote of confidence, Rabbi Lewin told the House that the Premier’s Mapai Party had broken its pledges to the Orthodox parties and had upset the status quo on which the coalition was based. He said that despite the fact that his party had not agreed with a number of decisions of the majority within the government it had abided by them because it had assumed responsibility within the “partnership.”

“But when Ben Gurion decided, nobody knows why, to introduce state education and to conscript Orthodox women, he thought he was free of his obligations to the partnership,” Rabbi Lewin charged. He added that the Agudah would not re-enter the Cabinet unless the Premier retreated on both of these points.

The Premier concluded the debate by stating that the coalition had agreed to postpone the conscription of Orthodox women for one year, and that the year was now up. Replying to Rabbi Lewin, he said that the majority could not submit to being overruled by a minority.

Dr. Peretz Bernstein, leader of the General Zionists, the largest party in the opposition, said that the “marginal changes” in the Cabinet would not help the present government enlarge its mass base which, he said, was “pitifully” narrow. This base, he insisted, will not assure the stability which is “so badly needed in the present economic crisis.” He questioned how long the government could continue to go along dependent upon donations from abroad.

Itzhak Ben Aharon, representing the Mapam, left-wing Socialist opposition, attacked the Mapai for the formation of a coalition supported by religious elements for whose support the “price was small now, but would increase later.” He charged that the Mapai-led government had failed in its “ingathering of the exiles” policy, had failed to absorb the immigrants who have arrived here and that its foreign policy was also a failure.

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