JERUSALEM (Apr. 7)
The Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, defeated opposition motions today, by a vote of 67 to 47, rejecting the requests made by parties that are not members of the coalition government for a full-scale debate on the resignation of Israel’s Chief of Security. The latter had quit over Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s disagreement with him about the policies followed when it was disclosed that German scientists, many of them ex-Nazis, are being employed by Egypt on projects for development of non-conventional weapons to be used for the destruction of Israel.
Prior to the meeting of Parliament, the Cabinet formulated a statement dealing with today’s special session of the Knesset. A terse Cabinet communique declared that a five-member Ministerial Committee for Security will study the issue of the German scientists being employed by Egypt. It is understood that that committee has been given power to subpoena all persons involved in the issue that led to the resignation of the security chief. The latter’s name, traditionally kept secret in this country, has not yet been officially revealed.
After leading House members representing the Liberal Party, Herut and Mapam voiced sharp criticism against Mr. Ben-Gurion’s bringing about the security chief’s resignation, the Prime Minister told the Knesset: “Our grave concern over the designs of the Egyptian dictator to destroy Israel, and over the assistance he is receiving from German and other scientists, should not throw us off our balance. “
BEN-GURION DENIES THE SECURITY CHIEF HAS BEEN ‘DISMISSED’
“Israel’s security, ” the Premier told the Knesset, “is founded on two factors: The deterrent power of Israel’s defense forces, and our international standing. A responsible Opposition–at least in security matters–should avoid statements not calculated to strengthen our international standing.” He added that “it was distortion of the truth” to say that the security chief had been “dismissed. “
The Prime Minister also deprecated press statements alleging that he had disassociated himself from the statement made three weeks ago in the Knesset by Foreign Minister Golda Meir, who had discussed the responsibility of the West German Government regarding the German scientists at work on the Egyptian projects. He pointed out that the measures taken by Israel since that discussion, as a result of a Knesset resolution of March 20, “has not yet been without success, so far. ” He indicated that the Ministerial Committee on Security, formed by the Cabinet, will have access to “fullest information” on the entire matter.
The fireworks in the Knesset, convened today, just before the eve of Passover, in an extraordinary session, started immediately after Mr. Ben-Gurion told the House that the problem of the security chief’s resignation could be discussed only by the special Ministerial Committee or by Parliament’s own Committee on Security and Foreign Affairs. The latter, he said, will resume its discussion of the subject, but a plenary session of the Knesset is not the proper forum for such a debate.
OPPOSITION LEADERS VOICE CHARGES AGAINST BEN-GURION IN KNESSET
Menahem Beigin, leader of the right-wing Herut Party, assailed the Prime Minister, charging he negated the Knesset’s March 20 resolution, alleging that Mr. Ben-Gurion had “forced” the security chief’s resignation, and saying the latter had been made a “scapegoat. ” He alleged that the Prime Minister, who had been on vacation when the issue developed last month, had “cut short his holiday to set into motion a series of measures designed to mute and tone down the Knesset’s resolution. “
Ishar Harrari, of the Liberal Party, scathingly attacked the Premier for allegedly withholding the reasons for the security chief’s exit. He said Mr. Ben-Gurion kept the full information back from Cabinet as well as from Parliament, asserting today’s special session was caused “by Ben-Gurion’s failure to fulfill his parliamentary obligations.”
For the left-wing Mapam Party, Yaacov Hazan said the Premier had three choices after the March 20 resolution. These, he said, were: Blaming the Bonn Government for the work of West German nationals in Egypt by accepting the Knesset resolution, despite his own views; bringing pressure on his coalition partners to reverse the previous decisions; or resign.
He charged Mr. Ben-Gurion was “unwilling” to adopt the first course, “unable to effect the second course” and “avoided” the third. Instead, he alleged, the Premier adopted a fourth course–”to disregard the unanimous Knesset resolution. ” He also criticized the decision made by Ben-Gurion against publishing a White Paper on the German scientists at work for Egypt, holding “there was no proof that this would damage the prestige of the nation.”
COALITION PARTIES REACH AGREEMENT PRIOR TO KNESSET MEETING
Today’s Knesset action was the result of an agreement reached in the course of prior talks between Mr. Ben-Gurion and his coalition partners, during which, it was understood, the Premier furnished further details than heretofore disclosed. He reportedly made clear explanations which, evidently seemed satisfactory to those with whom he met.