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Knesset Rejects Motions to Discuss Role of German Scientists in Egypt

The Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, rejected today four opposition party motions calling for general debate on the issue of the West German scientists working in Egypt on the development of advanced weapons systems. The vote was 48 to 33 against the motions, which were submitted by the right-wing Herut, leftist Mapam, the Liberal party and the Communists.

The House also rejected a proposal by Herut leader Menahem Beigin to have the motions referred to committee for consideration.

In the debate following introduction of the motions, Foreign Minister Golda Meir rejected opposition charges that Government agencies had “muted” the unanimous resolution passed by the Knesset on March 20 which urged all-out efforts at alerting world opinion against the German experts working in Egypt. Declaring that additional debate would be “redundant,” the Foreign Minister assured the Knesset that the Government would persist in carrying out effective measures to halt the activities of the German scientists in Egypt.

Spokesmen for the four opposition parties had argued that disclosures at the trial in Basle last month of two persons charged with being Israeli agents, and reports on the use of poison gas in the fighting in Yemen, warranted debate on the issue. They also charged that Government agencies, notably the Defense Ministry, had inspired local press reports that Egypt had not obtained cobalt weapon raw materials or any components of weapons for mass destruction in spite of the revelations of the Basle trial.

The opposition speakers argued that these press reports had sabotaged the campaign to rally world opinion against the German scientists. Reiterating that the Government had disregarded the Knesset resolution of last March, the opposition speakers cited the forced resignation of the chief of Israel’s security services as a gesture of “appeasement” to West Germany.

In her reply, Mrs. Meir denied that a Government agency had inspired the press reports and expressed regret that they had been published. Asserting that efforts in the spirit of the Knesset resolution had been and would continue to be carried out by the Government, Mrs. Meir expressed appreciation of a draft bill pending before the Bundestag, the lower House of the West German Parliament, designed to outlaw activities by German nationals abroad in the development of weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Beigin attacked the Foreign Minister for lauding the Bundestag, charging that the Bonn Parliament had procrastinated and would not reconvene after its summer recess until next October, after which, he said, the bill would be shuttled back and forth for longer delays. Israel, meanwhile, had whitewashed West German responsibility in the matter, he declared.

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