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Knesset to Discuss Today Motion for Debate on Treatment of Jews in Russia

A motion for debate on the question of treatment of Jews in the Soviet Union, sparked by reports of recent arrests of Jewish leaders in Leningrad and Moscow, will be presented by the opposition Herut party tomorrow in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament.

The presidium of the Knesset yesterday granted priority to a Herut motion to put the issue before the Parliamentary body as a matter of urgency. Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, is expected to reply for the Government.

The motion reflected the concern developing here over reports of the arrests and the closing of Moscow’s lone yeshiva. A typical Israeli press comment on the arrests was that the Kremlin was frustrated by the fact that 44 years after the revolution, there was still “a Jewish problem” in the Soviet Union. Another comment was that the charges of alleged treason against the arrested Jews were “grotesque” and “a grave omen for the immediate future.”

Meanwhile, a question was raised in the Knesset today over a letter by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, which declared it was a serious mistake that non-Ashkenazi representatives were not named to Israel’s Supreme Court and which was circulated during the recent election campaign.

Hanan Rubin, Mapam deputy, asked Justice Minister Dov Joseph whether the letter, which appeared as a Mapai election campaign advertisement, did not imply that the Prime Minister intended to influence appointment of Supreme Court justices. The Mapam deputy also asked the Justice Minister to assure the Knesset that judges could not be named as representatives of any particular community in Israel.

The Justice Minister replied that the law on appointment of judges provided for naming them by non-partisan nomination. In regard to the Prime Minister’s letter, he added, he could not assume responsibility for statements made by individuals nor that he could be expected to give the Knesset assurances as to what other people try to effect.

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