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Knesset Adjourns Debate on Compulsory Loan; Agreement Sought

A heated two-day debate on action on the Israel Government’s suspended 40, 000, 000-pound compulsory immigration loan was halted today when the Knesset adjourned early for behind-the-scenes negotiations.

The subject of the private talks, aimed at achieving an inter-coalition agreement for passage next week, was a Cabinet-sponsored amendment which would empower the Knesset’s financial committee to decide what further steps to take about the loan. The amendment. was considered a sop to ease widespread public criticism of the loan in view of the sudden suspension of immigration from Rumania.

The only supporters for the amendment were Mapai deputies. Mapai’s three coalition members took divergent views. The most extreme was that of the Progressive Party, whose deputies contended that the original reasons for floating the compulsory loan were no longer valid and that implementation would be a breach of faith with the people. The left-wing Mapam urged immediate partial implementation, to obtain 20, 000, 000 pounds, for ending the maabarot. Achdut Avodah demanded full implementation to alleviate housing needs of earlier immigrants.

The opposition Herut, General Zionists, the Agudas Israel and the Communists rejected the amendment and charged the Treasury with “machinations.” They argued that the original budget, without the supplementary income of the compulsory loan, provided for 40, 000 immigrants. Since there will not be even that number, they argued, a compulsory loan based on the prospect of 100, 000 new immigrants was “entirely redundant.” The National Religious Party also rejected the amendment and proposed budget revisions to provide the funds needed for housing.

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