JERUSALEM (Nov. 16)
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion today challenged Moshe Sneh, communist member of the Israel Parliament, to waive his parliamentary immunity and face prosecution for libel over the latter’s allegation that an Israeli Army junta imposed its authority over the civilian administration in connection with the 1954 security mishap which led to the resignation of Pinhas Lavon as Minister of Defense.
The Premier, rejecting Mr. Sneh’s charge as well as the intimation that Mr. Ben-Gurion himself headed the junta, said the allegations were malicious slander. There is no more loyal army than that of Israel, he declared, calling the charge “an unprecedented smear.” He called on Mr. Sneh to “name the person to whom you allude” and challenged the communist deputy to waive his immunity to face a suit for slander.
The Parliament, meanwhile, overwhelmingly defeated a motion by Mr. Sneh to debate the question of civilian authority over the Army. Mr. Sneh had told the House in calling for the motion, that recent disclosures in connection with the 1954 mishap had “proved the existence” of a junta made up of Army hierarchy and “unauthorized” civilians of a certain party.
The Herut and General Zionist deputies abstained on the communist motion, a spokes-man for the latter faction explaining that there was no need to discuss the matter in open session as long as the issue was being investigated in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee.
In his sharp reply to the charges. Premier Ben-Gurion declared that, while the mishap occurred when he was out of office and in retirement in Sde Boker, he believed that the Army’s character and principles had remained unchanged during the 11 years he knew them.