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Knesset Defeats Proposal to Abolish Military Service for Women

The Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, today defeated by a 46 to 16 vote a proposal by the National Religious Party seeking cancellation of the compulsory two-year military service requirement for women.

Another proposal of the Religious Party, which did not come to a vote after Prime Minister David Ben Gurion entered the debate to oppose it, was that women’s service should be volunteer. Dr. Zorach Warhaftig, in making the second proposal, said that since 90 percent of women in the military service were doing clerical work, they could be dispensed with by the armed forces.

The Religious leader also argued that their mobilization adversely affected the future of home life in Israel. He supported this proposition by citing statistics that the Israel birthrate was declining and he attributed the decline to compulsory military service.

The Prime Minister ridiculed that argument, pointing out that married women were exempt from the law, He added that while women did not serve in fighting units, they were incorporated in liaison units. He said that the current calm on Israel’s borders should not lull the armed forces whose task remained that of being alert to the “constant threat” of Israel’s Arab neighbors.

Mr. Ben Gurion cited a recent press interview with President Nasser of the United Arab Republic in which Nasser said that while the Arab armies did not yet match that of Israel, they hoped to catch up soon. The Prime Minister said that because of the current manpower situation in relation to such dangers to Israel’s security, Israel’s armed forces could not dispense with women’s services.

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