Lavon Takes Issue with Ben-gurion on Investigation of Army Officers

Pinhas Lavon denied today a statement issued earlier this week by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, in which the Premier asserted that there was no connection between his ordering an investigation into the integrity of two Army officers and Mr. Lavon’s resignation as Minister of Defense in 1955.

In his denial, Mr. Lavon, who is now Secretary General of the Histadrut, Israel’s labor federation, said that the cause of his resignation six years ago from the Cabinet of former Premier Moshe Sharett, was the refusal by the Government to dismiss two members of Israel’s security network. He demanded their dismissal, he said, following a “certain affair” that took place and which was investigated by a two-member committee in 1954. He said the nature of the “affair” has not been disclosed for security reasons.

The Histadrut official also challenged Mr. Ben-Gurion’s assertion that he was unaware of Mr. Lavon’s proposals for changes in the country’s defense structure and why they were not accepted by Mr. Sharett. Mr. Lavon quoted, in his statement, a letter he addressed to the Prime Minister, reminding him that immediately after Mr. Ben-Gurion resumed his post as Minister of Defense in February 1955, he invited Mr. Lavon to his office and asked him about the proposals and his conclusions.

At that time, Mr. Lavon said, he told Mr. Ben-Gurion what he had said to former Premier Sharett–that two persons should be dismissed from the security network. At that meeting, he had also told Mr. Ben-Gurion of various suggestions regarding the defense network structure, Mr. Lavon declared, and added that these suggestions were later forwarded to Mr. Ben-Gurion in a written memorandum.

DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER PERES INVOLVED IN “LAVON AFFAIR”

The Histadrut leader said that his ultimate condition for remaining in the Cabinet six years ago was the dismissal of the two persons involved with whom no self-respecting man could have continued to work after what happened in the “certain affair.”

The Prime Minister later today sent a letter to Mr. Lavon, in which he admitted he was mistaken in saying that he was not aware of Mr. Lavon’s proposals as Defense Minister for changes in Israel’s security setup. In the letter, the Prime Minister declared that he now recalled that one of the two men whose dismissal Mr. Lavon had demanded was actually relieved from his post when Mr. Ben-Gurion took over the Defense Ministry after Mr. Lavon’s, resignation.

It was disclosed today that one of the two men was Shimon Peres, now Deputy Defense Minister and then director general of the Defense Ministry, and that the other was “a high ranking officer.” The Mapai secretariat was expected to take up the issue again inasmuch as the dispute involves two or more prominent members of that party.

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