JERUSALEM (Oct. 17)
Pinhas Lavon appeared today before the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee of the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, as that body resumed hearings in connection with the resignation of Mr. Lavon in 1955 from his post as Defense Minister in the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Moshe Sharett.
The Committee had postponed its hearings from yesterday in anticipation of the release of the findings of a special investigating committee appointed by Premier David Ben-Gurion and headed by Supreme Court Justice Haim Cohen. The special committee which is investigating charges alleging forgery by two high-ranking officers, completed its inquiry yesterday and has presented its findings to Chief of Staff Haim Laskov, to be passed on to Mr. Ben-Gurion.
Nearly all of Israel’s morning papers appeared today with blank spaces in their pages, resulting from censorship of reports on the findings of the special committee, which have been barred from publication until an official communique is issued.
Prime Minister Ben-Gurion himself has sent a number of questions to the Knesset committee to be put to Mr. Lavon in the course of his testimony, it was learned today. Former Premier Sharett was also due to testify before the Knesset body today, and Deputy Defense Minister Shimon Peres is scheduled to appear on Thursday. Mr. Peres was Director-General of the Defense Ministry at the time of Mr. Lavon’s resignation.
Mr. Lavon, who is now Secretary General of the Histadrut, again took issue today with Premier Ben-Gurion for the latter’s statements during the controversy. Mr. Lavon had earlier denied assertions by the Premier that the latter’s appointment of the special investigating committee had nothing to do with Lavon’s resignation in 1955. Today, Mr. Lavon asserted that the Premier either did not read his proposals for defense reorganization, or did not remember them, if he could say that “they would result in splitting the defense network like Solel Boneh was split.” Mr. Lavon reiterated his position that he demanded full public clearance.
Agriculture Minister Moshe Dayan, who was Chief of Staff at the time Lavon resigned, said today that officers in the Armed Forces are subject to severe discipline. He declared that “any commander in Israel’s Army who was aware of such acts (forgery or manipulation of facts), and did not immediately take all steps open to him to investigate the case and punish the guilty, should be considered an accomplice and the full force of the law should be invoked against him.”
Mr. Dayan revealed that he had submitted his resignation to Lavon five years ago. when he learned that he did not enjoy the confidence of the Defense Minister. He said, however, that his resignation was not accepted.
Public interest in the case reached peak intensity today, with growing support for Lavon. Within Mapai circles, the veteran politicians were reported lining up on the side of Lavon, against Premier Ben-Gurion and the “young generation.”