Knesset Rejects Motion to Debate Israel’s Selling of Arms to Germany

A motion calling for a debate on Israel’s policy of selling arms and uniforms to West Germany was defeated by the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, today, by a vote of 54 to 22.

The motion had been introduced by Menahem Beigin, leader of the Herut Party, in apparent retaliation for an attack on his party two days ago by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. The Premier had accused one of the Herut leaders of having “praised” Hitler back in 1933. Mr. Beigin bitterly assailed Mr. Ben-Gurion for that remark–later withdrawn by the Premier.

Today, Mr. Hsigin charged Mr. Ben-Gurion with being the first to negotiate a treaty with the Nazis in 1935 when, as head of the Jewish Agency he negotiated the agreement for the transfer of Jewish capital from Germany at a time when the Zionist-Revisionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky called on the world to boycott German products.

Levi Eshkol, Israel Finance Minister, replying for the Government, told the Knesset that the 1935 transfer agreement with Germany–known as Haavarah–has enabled many Jews to take out their money from Nazi Germany and rescued tens of thousands of Jews from falling into Nazi hands. He also said that the Israeli- made Uzzi submachine guns and uniforms being sold now to Germany do not constitute a strategic decisive contribution to Germany while their production helps Israel’s industry and economy.

Meanwhile, today, the Knesset’s presidium ordered a Parliament House Committee to summon tour Herut leaders for “clarification” of the disturbance that occurred in the Knesset today, during Mr. Ben-Gurion’s address. The Knesset was forced to suspend its session for three hours because of that uproar.

The Herut leaders to be summoned for possible disciplinary action are Mr. Beigin, Haim Landau, Deputy Speaker Arie Ben-Eliezer and Yaacov Shofman. The latter was identified by the official minutes of Monday’s stormy meeting as having been “the noisiest” among those who heckled Mr. Ben-Gurion.

A proposal that Mr. Ben-Gurion be summoned also before the same committee, on the grounds that he had “provoked” the noisy demonstration Monday, was voted down by the Knesset presidium.

The House Committee to hear the charges against the four Herut leaders is scheduled to convene next week. If the Herut representatives are found guilty of having caused the disturbance, they face suspension from the Knesset for four or five weeks.

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