Knesset Rejects Motion to Debate Status of Israel’s Secret Service

A minor government crisis was averted today when the Knesset rejected a motion by a vote of 50 to 17, to debate the status of the Israeli secret service and agreed instead to a proposal of Prime Minister David Ben Gurion to refer the matter to the Knesset Committee for Security and Foreign Affairs. A Cabinet meeting convened to discuss long-range development plans quickly became the forum of an argument over the secret service.

Mr. Ben Gurion refused to reveal the name of the head of the secret service or the exact nature of its work, beyond stating that 95 percent of the service’s budget and personnel were engaged in combatting espionage rings in Israel. Such rings, he said, some of them working for Israel’s enemies, were more active in Israel than in most countries. He asserted that the secret service had been responsible for suppressing much of their activities and bringing many foreign agents to trial–some of them secret trials.

He specifically denied that the service was being used as an instrumentality of the Mapai Party. The discussion was touched off by motions by General Zionist and Herut leaders demanding a debate on the secret service and charging that it went far beyond security needs–tapping telephone wires, planting microphones and opening the mail of members of Parliament, even of members of the government coalition.

Meanwhile, in a discussion of foreign policy, Mrs. Golda Meir, Israeli Foreign Minister, assured the Knesset that the Government remained opposed to allowing stationing of United Nations Emergency Force units on the Israeli side of Arab-Israeli demarcation lines. Referring specifically to the demilitarized zone at Nitzanah, Mrs. Meir said Israel would not make any territorial concessions to such UNEF demands.

Mrs. Meir made her statement in comment on a question by Yigal Alon, leader of the left wing Achdut Avodah, who said Canadian and British Foreign Ministers asked for stationing of UNEF on Israeli territory. Mrs. Meir cited a declaration by Mr. Ben Gurion that there would be no further territorial concessions as well as her previous public statements.

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