JERUSALEM (Jul. 16)
In the face of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s insistence to the contrary, Israel’s Cabinet today reaffirmed approval of a report made to the Cabinet last January 31, absolving Pinhas Lavon of responsibility for a “security mishap” in 1954.
The Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, will hold another special meeting, to deal with the explosive Lavon issue. There were predictions today that all of the parties in the Knesset, except Mr. Ben-Gurion’s Mapai Party, will form a coalition to reject the Prime Minister’s efforts to nullify the findings of the earlier, seven-man ministerial committee that had cleared Mr. Lavon.
Mr. Ben-Gurion had already told a special meeting of the Knesset, which is in recess pending the scheduled August 15 elections, that he considers that the ministerial committee “exceeded its terms of reference and usurped a juridical prerogative.” But Justice Minister Pinhas Rosen countered with a vigorous denial of Mr. Ben-Gurion’s charge.
Prior to the vote in the Cabinet today, Mr. Ben-Gurion explained his “irrevocable” stand which had led to his resignation and the subsequent fall of the Government. That step, in turn, was followed by the dissolution of the Government, and the necessity of new elections. Meanwhile, Mr. Lavon had been ousted from his post as secretary-general of Histadrut, Israel’s Federation of Labor.
Israel has been governed by a caretaker government since Mr. Ben-Gurion’s resignation which followed a Cabinet decision to uphold the ministerial committee’s findings. Mr. Rosen had been chairman of that committee.
ROSEN HITS BACK AT PREMIER; BROAD KNESSET COALITION EXPECTED
Mr. Rosen rejected particularly Mr. Ben-Gurion’s claim that, by clearing Lavon of a charge that as Defense Minister in 1954 he gave the order which led to the security disaster, the committee in effect “convicted” a senior army officer for the mishap.
Mr. Rosen retorted that, if the Prime Minister wanted to find out who actually gave the decisive order, he could have called the un-named senior officer to account under normal investigative procedures. If that had been done, the Justice Minister said, Lavon would have been obliged to testify.
The Justice Minister also charged that the Prime Minister’s complaint about the lack of validity of the committee’s findings on procedural grounds was not made when the committee was set up and began its investigations, but only after the committee brought in a report which the Prime Minister found distasteful.
GOVERNMENT CRITICIZED ON SHAVIT-II ANNOUNCEMENT, ARMS SALES CURBED
At today’s Cabinet meeting, the Government was also criticized for the manner in which it announced the launching of its meteorological rocket, Shavit-II. The Cabinet decided that, in the future, reports on experiments of international significance be submitted first to a ministerial committee for approval prior to public announcement.
Today’s session of the Cabinet also approved a series of recommendations by a special committee which examined proposals restricting Government sales of arms to foreign countries. One clause in the new recommendations would ban re-sale of Israeli arms to a third party, if the nation buying the arms from the one that had purchased from Israel would use such weapons to maintain a colonial regime.
This rule was proposed as a result of recent reports–denied both here and at Bonn–that West Germany had re-sold to Portugal a large quantity of Israel-made Uzzi submachine-guns. Portugal, according to that report, was said to have used the Israeli-originated weapons against the independence movement in Angola, Africa.
During that discussion, Foreign Minister Golda Meir explained that, in all previous arms sales, her Ministry was consulted. Where there was “the slightest doubt” about such a proposed deal, she said, the Foreign Ministry’s veto of such a deal was always accepted “without question.”