Ben Gurion Talks to Knesset on Extent of Israel’s Armed Forces

Israel is attempting to build its armed forces to a strength equivalent to one-third of the armed forces of the United Arab Republic, which includes the might of Egypt and Syria, Premier David Ben Gurion declared in the Knesset. The Premier made his announcement in an address supporting a new bill which would close loopholes through which foreign residents of Israel avoid military service.

The Premier voiced satisfaction with the recent acquisition of two submarines from Britain, but warned the public against complacency and against exaggerating the importance of the undersea craft. He indicated still further military build-up was needed.

Commenting on suggestions that the present period of conscription be reduced from 30 months, Mr. Ben Gurion said current political and manpower developments forbade a reduction. It cannot “even be discussed” prior to 1962, he added.

In the debate which followed, the General Zionists voiced concern over the Premier’s admission that Israel’s armed strength had not yet reached the one-third mark of the UAR armies. The Herut deputies expressed satisfaction with the purchase of the submarines, noting that this upheld their contention that Israel could obtain weapons from countries other than Germany.

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