Knesset Rejects Debate on Ben-gurion’s Efforts to Revive ‘lavon Affair’

Two opposition motions for a full-scale debate on former Premier David Ben-Gurion’s current effort to pursue the officially-closed inquiry into the touchy old “Lavon Affair” were defeated in the Knesset (Parliament) last night by votes of 54 to 39.

The affair involved Pinhas Lavon, Minister of Defense in 1954, who had been accused of responsibility for a never-disclosed “mishap” affecting the state’s security. Since Mr. Ben-Gurion resigned the Premiership, last month, it has been disclosed that, prior to his resignation, he had appointed an Israeli Journalist to study the documents in that case and survey the entire issue, although, officially, Mr. Lavon had been exonerated.

The motions for debate were introduced by the Herut and Liberal parties which charged Mr, Ben-Gurion was motivated “not by the needs of security” but by personal vindictiveness. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol-defended Mr, Ben-Gurion, declaring that a Minister of the State, which Mr. Ben-Gurion was when he initiated the new journalistic inquiry, was empowered to assign any person he chose to study any subject under his jurisdiction. When he was Premier, Mr. Ben-Gurion was also Minister of Defense.

Meahem Beigin, leader of Herut, and Elimelech Rimalt, for the Liberals, recalled to the House that a Ministerial Committee had cleared Mr. Lavon of blame after an inquiry in 1961, They recalled also that, subsequently, the Knesset had accepted that committee’s findings, and that Mr. Ben-Gurion had resigned over the issue, precipitating new national elections.

They insisted Mr. Ben-Gurion’s new move was “illegal” and was made “on personal volition.” Also that the move was dangerous because he made secret security documents available to a “journalist.” But the House voted down the motions. Parliament also voted down a Mapam motion to submit the entire matter to a Knesset committee.

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