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Knesset Votes Confidence in Sharett Govt.; Defeats Communists

The Israel Parliament voted confidence in the Sharett government last night after a demand by the Communist Party for a vote of no confidence. The ballot revealed 69 deputies supporting the government, 10 against and seven abstaining. Under the Knesset’s rules any deputy or any party may force a confidence vote by simply asking for it.

The Communist deputies charged that in a recent speech in Tel Aviv, Minister of Defense Pinchas Lavon had called the Arab minority in the country a “fifth column” and had called for an immediate “preventative war” by Israel against the Arab states. They also charged that Mr. Lavon had said that Israel must double its defense budget.

Mr. Lavon denied all charges. He said that he had declared that Israel, unlike any other state in the world, was surrounded by enemies who “morning and night repeat that they are preparing for a second round” of warfare, yet obtain arms and economic assistance abroad. Mr. Lavon said that he had stressed in his earlier speech that in these circumstances Israel must always be prepared to defend itself against all possible attacks.

He also denied advocating doubling the defense budget, emphasizing that such a demand would be irresponsible since Israel never could raise such a budget. The present defense budget of the state, he said, is 12 to 15 percent of the total national income, and doubling the budget would force the collapse of the Israel economy.

The Herut announced that despite the fact that it was critical of Mr. Lavon, it would not vote for the Communist motion. A similar declaration was made by the Achdut Avoda-Poale Zion Party. The Mapam abstained.

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