Ben Gurion Reports to Knesset on Withdrawal; 5,000 Demonstrate
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Ben Gurion Reports to Knesset on Withdrawal; 5,000 Demonstrate

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Premier David Ben Gurion appeared tonight before the Israeli Parliament with a report on his decision to withdraw the Israeli troops from the Gaza and Akaba areas. He emphasized that the two main objectives of the Sinai campaign–freedom of navigation and freedom from Egyptian attacks in the Gaza area have been achieved. “These are great assets for the nation’s future security, “he stated. The debate in the Knesset will continue tomorrow.

The Israel Premier started his address shortly after 9 P. M. A demonstration against the withdrawal decision, in which about 5,000 persons participated, was held earlier in the afternoon. The demonstration was organized by the extreme right-wing Herut Party, members of which heckled Mr. Ben Gurion in Parliament during his address. They were joined in these tactics by Communist deputies.

Premier Ben Gurion, speaking in a tense House, explained to Parliament that the Sinai operation was not a campaign of conquest but one of self-defense. He listed the historic developments which led to Israel’s entrance into the Sinai. At this point, after he had been interrupted intermittently by cat-calls from the Herut deputies, he appealed to the chair–for the first time in his experience–to restore order. Parliament was surrounded by barbed wire entanglements and heavy cordons of steel-helmeted police during the session.


The Herut demonstration, which preceded the session of the Parliament, was carried out in an atmosphere reminiscent of the violent demonstrations here five years ago when Israel concluded the reparations pact with West Germany. Youths carrying posters demanded the halting of the withdrawal and Mr. Ben Gurion’s resignation. Other youths carried the white-blue national flag draped in black. At the same time, Herut members flooded the main squares of the city with anti-Government leaflets condemning the withdrawal decision.

In a counter-move, pro-Government Mapai and Histadrut groups called upon the population to abstain from participating in it, and brought busloads of new immigrants to Histadrut headquarters. Policemen meanwhile, erected barbed wire roadblocks on the approaches to Parliament. Four concentric circles of barbed wire surrounded the building.

By five o’clock this afternoon, four hours before Parliament started its debate, police in battle array sealed off the streets leading to Parliament’s Square. By that time supporters of the pro-Government Mapai Party and of the Histadrut arrived in large numbers from Tel Aviv and Haifa ready to help the police resist violence on the part of the Herut.

Parliamentary members of the Herut Party had joined the Herut demonstration and addressed the crowds, pledging that when they assumed government power they would “re-liberate Gaza and other parts of our homeland abandoned by Ben Gurion and Mapai.” The crowds were then urged to disperse quietly and not to congregate in the vicinity of the Parliament, in order not to provoke “a civil war.” Whereupon the demonstrators dispersed without incident. singing the national anthem “Hatikvah.”

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