Knesset Enacts New Law on Government Financial Aid to Political Parties

The Knesset held a marathon session last night to give final readings to a new law providing Government financial subsidies to political parties for election campaign purposes. But another measure calling for the direct election of mayors will probably expire when the current Knesset adjourns tomorrow even though it passed its first reading by a 46-23 vote.

The new subsidy bill replaces a previous law nullified by Israel’s Supreme Court on grounds that it discriminated against small parties. The fact that bleary-eyed Knesset members sat up half the night to see the bill through its required second and third readings less than 24 hours after it passed the first, attested to the importance attached to it with elections little more than three months away. The Knesset also gave final approval to a bill validating all previously passed election laws. Its purpose was to forestall the possibility of future nullifications by the Supreme Court.

But the bill on mayoral elections apparently seemed less urgent although it was supported by most political factions. There was only time for a first reading and it seemed unlikely that this Knesset, the sixth, will vote on the final readings before the adjournment deadline.

According to law, every Knesset is a sovereign body and all pending measures not finally approved become null and void when the Knesset adjourns and must be introduced anew in the next Knesset. The fate of the bill hinges on the slim chance that the sixth Knesset will choose to remain in emergency session until the seventh Knesset convenes. Otherwise, Israel’s mayors will continue to be selected from the lists of the winning parties as heretofore.

CONSIDERS PROBLEM OF SOVIET REPRESSION OF JEWRY

The Knesset also took up the plight of Soviet Jewry. It was one of the rare occasions when the Chamber was virtually unanimous. Speakers all agreed that the Soviet policy of repressing the country’s Jewish minority must be condemned and that Israel should take the lead in demanding the right of emigration for Russian Jews.

The discussion of the Soviet Jewish problem was initiated by Chaim Landau of the Gahal (Herut-Liberal alignment) who said the solidarity of Israel with Soviet Jews would encourage them if they hear about it. Israel Galili, Minister-Without-Portfolio, who heads Israel’s information services, declared that there was “no force in the world” that could break the link between world Jewry and Soviet Jews. He said that in spite–or because–of the anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist, anti-Israel propaganda campaign waged by the official Russian press, Soviet Jews are experiencing a “national revival” that is unsurpassable. He said it was Israel’s duty to bring the repression of Soviet Jews before world opinion and demand freedom for those who wish to be allowed to emigrate to Israel.

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