JERUSALEM (Feb. 3)
The Knesset today easily defeated a motion of no confidence filed against the Government by the opposition Haolam Hazeh faction over the proposed amendment to the Law of Return. The vote was 73-5. But the chamber was thrown into an uproar when Shalom Cohen, of Haolam Hazeh, dramatically tore up his identity card in a symbolic protest against the amendment which establishes religious criteria as the sole determinant of who is entitled to Jewish nationality.
The tiny (two-man) faction demanded that nationality be deleted from population registration forms and identity cards. The Speaker of the Knesset, Reuben Barkat,threatened to take legal action against Mr. Cohen for violating the decorum of the chamber. But legal experts said the threat was an idle one because the Knesset-member enjoys parliamentary immunity.
Uri Avneri, the Tel Aviv magazine publisher who heads the Haolam Hazeh faction, argued that religion and nationality are a personal affair and should not be subjected to prying by officials or listed on personal Identity cards. Minister of Justice Yaacov Shimsbon Shapiro declined to reply on grounds that the matter will be debated in the Knesset next week when the amendments to the Law of Return come up for a vote. But he criticized the Haolam Hazeh faction for bringing up a motion of no confidence on a measure that has not yet been discussed in the Knesset. Haolam Hazeh was supported in the voting by the two Communist factions. Abstentions were recorded by the State List, headed by former Premier Davia Ben Gurion, the Free Center and the ultra-Orthodox Agudat Israel.