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Lavon Clarifies Issue Which Led to Israel Cabinet Crisis

A statement clarifying the issue which has brought about the resignation of four General Zionist members from the Israel Government was issued here today by Pinhas Lavon, member of the Israel Government who is currently visiting the United States. Mr. Lavon’s statement reads:

“Press reports from Israel on the government crisis require clarification. Four members of the coalition government of Israel, belonging to the General Zionist Party, have resigned following a decision by the central committee of the Labor Party relating to one particular regulation of the projected education law.

“I wish to re-state the position of the Labor Party of whose nine representatives in the present cabinet I am one. We are the majority of the General Federation of Labor in Israel – the Histadrut. My party has just decided that the Histadrut shall join the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions – that great association of the free trade unions of the world which stand as we do for freedom and democracy and against Communist regimentation. My party has also decided that Communists shall be excluded from office in the Histadrut.

“Our party, and under its direction, our labor movement as a whole, stand for the ideals of free democratic labor. It has rejected Communism throughout its history. Our consistent record of active anti-Communism is such that there is no need for us to draw special attention to this fact which no misrepresentation can change.

EMPHASIZES LABOR FLAG IS NOT THE COMMUNIST BANNER

“The specific issue which has led to the resignation from the government is part of the wider problem of the reorganization of our educational system. All parties in the government reached agreement on the creation of a public education system with a standard curriculum. In conformity with the democratic traditions of our people we agreed that we would allow schools, in accordance with the wishes of parents, to add to that standard curriculum in an agreed manner and under public supervision.

“Up till now there have existed separate labor schools. We agreed to put them into the public school system, but we asked that the rights accorded to all parents should not be withheld from members of the labor movement. The central committee of my party accordingly requested that where parents require it, our traditional Labor Day, the first of May, should be celebrated, in the way in which democratic labor movements have always celebrated it, as an occasion for the elevation of the dignity of free human labor.

“We do not want to impose that on anyone who does not wish it, but we ask that those who do wish it should be allowed to have it. Part of that tradition, which is no new thing with us, is the use of the labor flag and the singing of the labor hymn. These are traditions which our labor movement shares in common with the democratic labor movements of Western Europe, with which we have always been closely associated. The report that the labor flag which we use contains the Communist symbols of the hammer and sickle is false. We have never used the Communist symbols which to us stand for a movement which has always fought against our national aspirations and our work in Israel.

“We are confident that the people of Israel, who in the most difficult of circumstances have founded their State upon the basis of freedom and democracy, will never swerve from these principles, and will always fulfill the obligations which they impose. Whatever differences of opinion on isolated issues may exist between ourselves and other parties, and no matter how strongly we may feel about those differences, the overwhelming majority of the people of Israel are and always will be united in determination to preserve their democracy and protect the conditions of human freedom as they are generally understood in all free countries.”

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