Knesset Criticizes Election Brochure Prepared for Israeli Army

The Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, adopted a resolution expressing regret over the distribution to Army personnel of an information booklet on the forthcoming elections. The resolution, which was supported by all parties except Mapai and Poalei Agudat Israel, said the booklet was tendentious and, in some parts, violated objectivity. The vote was taken at a special session of the Knesset which reconvened to discuss the issue, after a number of opposition parties had charged that the booklet, which had already been withdrawn by the Army, contained Mapai propaganda. The Knesset was recessed last month for the election campaign.

In opening the debate, which later developed into a political free-for-all, Premier David Ben-Gurion insisted that the booklet presented a fair explanation of the elections, and that not even a single sentence was subject to reproach. He said that the booklet correctly attributed the need for elections to the fact that Mapai was not able to form a new Government by itself, while the other parties could not form one without Mapai.

The Premier, who was heckled during most of his statement, touched off the lively debate when he told the House he resigned because the Cabinet committee, which exonerated former Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon from responsibility for the 1954 security mishap, had assumed judicial functions. Opposition speakers maintained that the Premier refused to accept the Cabinet committee’s findings because they differed from his own opinion–not because of constitutional scruples.

In supporting the resolution, opposition deputies charged that the booklet was pro-Mapai, made light of political parties in general, and gave a biased view of the circumstances forcing the early elections.

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