Ben Gurion Re-introduces Jewish Agency Status Bill in Knesset

Premier David Ben Gurion today re-introduced in Parliament the bill to grant the Jewish Agency a special status in connection with its activities in Israel in the fields of development and absorption of immigrants.

The bill, which was withdrawn by the Premier several weeks ago, was returned today with only one amendment. It eliminated from the first paragraph the words “representing only its own inhabitants. ” Originally, this paragraph read as follows: “The State of Israel, representing only its own inhabitants, regards itself as the work of the whole Jewish people and has opened the gates to every Jew who wishes to come.”

In his presentation, the Premier emphasized that this is “no ordinary law” but will take its place beside the “Law of Return,” which guarantees the right of all Jews to enter Israel, as part of the basic legislation of the Jewish State. He asserted that the “Law of Status” would serve as a tool for the redemption of the Jewish nation, and that it demonstrates Israel’s attachment for the Jewish nation.

He said that the meaning of the law as presented is to prevent recognition of the Zionist Organization as representative of the Jewish nation, because no organization–not even the Zionist Organization–represents the entire nation. Only the nation itself can speak for the nation, he added, He demised that the attitude of the State of Israel had weakened the Zionist movement. He called for a speedy adoption of the law.

General Zionist deputy Joseph Serlin accused the Premier of changing his Zionist theory to suit the needs of his party. He charged that strained relations between the state and the Zionist movement had created the need for a law to clarify the relation between the two. Mr. Serlin said that the Premier had reached agreement with the Zionist executive, not with the Zionist Organization which at its last Congress had asked for a different status law.

Aaron Zisling, of the left-wing Mapam, asserted that the bill will not “strengthen the Zionist Organization in the State of Israel, but the State of Israel’s position in the Zionist Organization.” He said that it would give the government more power to intervene in the affairs of the Zionist Organization. The debate on the bill will continue for several hours.

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