Israel Coalition Parties Differ Strongly on Proposed Budget
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Israel Coalition Parties Differ Strongly on Proposed Budget

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Strong differences among member parties of the Israel coalition government have come to the surface in the past few days of debate in Parliament over the proposed 571,000,000-pound budget for 1954-55. However, General Zionist deputies, who have taken the opportunity to criticize the budget, last night underlined that while they feel that they are justified in opposing the budget, there is no danger of disrupting the coalition over it.

The General Zionists have demanded further cuts in the budget, insisting that it is too large for Israel’s economic abilities. Chaim Ariav, one of the General Zionists who took the floor, called for liberalization of economic controls including scrapping of the foreign currency controls. He said the taxes needed to support the budget were out of proportion to the ability of the Israel people to pay. The very size of the budget creates a danger of inflation, he charged, and it must be cut even at the expense of essential services.

Shimon Bejarano, another centrist deputy, argued that his party had not entered the government to surrender its right to struggle for its own views. He denied that membership in the coalition means “uniformity” of views and argued for the right of his party to criticize a government policy even though it did not find it necessary to break with the government over it. Nevertheless, Mr. Bejarano concluded his remarks on an optimistic note, citing symptoms of stabilization in the economy.


Mapai deputies argued that further cuts in the budget could not be made without slashing essential services. Finance Committee chairman Israel Guri insisted that only administrative costs could be trimmed and that essential services were now at an irreducible minimum. Demands for paring the budget, he charged, are a screen for opposition to the government’s fiscal policy which, he asserted, is basically sound. The Israeli people must work and produce more in order to improve the country’s position, he declared.

Two Poale Mizrachi deputies, also members of the government, split on the question of budget cuts. Eliahu Genehovsky called for a reduction, stating that taxes were too high. Moshe Kelmer, however, opposed cuts and demanded more funds for aiding the unemployed.

Poale Agudah leader Benjamin Mintz also supported the government budget, stating that Israel was an island of democratic life in the Middle East, for which it must pay. He demanded equalization of the income tax burden so that it would hit all classes to the same extent it hit wage earners.

The left wing Mapam Party has been in active opposition since the budget was introduced. Aharon Zisling attacked it as “anti-social and non-Zionist, ” and criticized the high unemployment situation and the stoppage of immigration. He called the budget a “reactionary” document which cuts social services.

Hanan Rubin, another leftist, charged the government with failing to keep its promises to halt rising prices. Israel still has not attained economic independence, he pointed out, while living standards are dropping and unemployment is increasing. Immigration was not responsible for the unemployment situation, he said but the decline in immigration was responsible for the joblessness, he said. Mr. Rubin forecast the break-up of the Mapai-General Zionist coalition.

Dr. Yochanan Bader, Herut deputy, attacked both the budget and the government’s economic policy. There are no grounds for optimism in the current situation, he insisted, stating that taxes were too high and that the present economic policy encourages inflation. He concluded with a demand for economic stabilization.

The debate was scheduled to resume again late today, with the general debate closing and a detailed discussion of departmental budgets scheduled to follow.

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