Knesset Presidium Rejects Plea on Drafting of Orthodox Women

The presidium of the Israel Parliament today refused to receive a delegation of religious women with a memorandum opposing the National Service Bill which provides that girls exempted from military service because of religious convictions should be conscripted for service in immigrant work villages and in social welfare institutions.

The bill, which was approved early this week by the Cabinet over the opposition of two religious members, is expected to be introduced by Premier David Ben Gurion in Parliament next Monday. The coalition parties today decided not to postpone presentation of the bill. Under the provisions of the bill, Orthodox girls between 18 and 26 years of age will have to serve for a period of two years.

The Neturei Karta, an extremist Orthodox group, today decided to excommunicate Premier Ben Gurion, should the bill be presented to Parliament. They announced that an excommunication ceremony–modeled after the medieval “Cherem”–will take place on Monday with the lighting of black candles, the blowing of the Shofar and the recitation of special prayers. “Nothing will stop us in this struggle; we are ready for the greatest sacrifices,” a spokesman of the extremist group told the press.

The Parliamentary faction of the Poale Mizrachi Party met last night to consider the decision of the coalition parties to go ahead with their plans to bring the National Service Bill up for debate next week. The Mizrachi laborite deputies decided to call a meeting of their party’s central committee for tomorrow to consider the coalition’s move.

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