Heightened Tensions on Security Prompt Mudslinging in the Knesset

Verbal violence wracked the Knesset on Monday as some members used epithets and analogies from the Nazi period to express their views on the peace process and the ongoing violence in the administered territories.

The government eventually weathered four no-confidence motions submitted by the opposition Likud, Tsomet, National Religious and Moledet parties. The votes were 57-46.

The Knesset melee erupted when Moledet’s Rehavam Ze’evi compared the Rabin government to that of Vichy France, and then refused to withdraw his remark.

Labor representatives angrily pointed out that the Vichy regime supported the Nazis.

Ze’evi, a former general in the Israel Defense Force, said he had no other way of describing a government that makes common cause with the enemies of its country.

This led Yoram Lass of Labor to call Ze’evi a “Nazi,” apparently a reference to a plank in Moledet’s platform that calls for “transfer” of the Palestinians out of Israel.

Pandemonium erupted in the Knesset.

The acting speaker, Rafi Edri, was unable to restore order for several minutes, and the incident was later referred to a Knesset committee for possible disciplinary action.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, speaking from a prepared text, called on settlers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to do “what we have been doing here for a hundred years: burying our dead, biting our lips — and carrying on.”

He urged the settlers to restrain those among them who sought revenge or to cause violence in the territories, warning that such action would boomerang against Israel.

He said the army had “strict instructions” not to permit further acts of lawlessness — by Jews as well as Arabs.

An attack near Hebron on Sunday killed 30- year-old Ephraim Ayubi dead and injured Rabbi Chaim Druckman. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, based in Damascus, claimed responsibility for that incident.

Rabin said the Palestine Liberation Organization had committed no acts of terror since the signing of the mutual-recognition pact Sept. 13.

But Likud’s chairman, Benjamin Netanyahu, said the PLO mainstream was working “hand in hand” with Hamas, the fundamentalist Islamic group.

For the NRP, Zevulun Hammer accused the government of failing to discharge its basic security obligations toward the settlers.

Tsomet’s Rafael Eitan said the PLO was not living up to the commitments that the government — but not the opposition — expected of it.

Both Shas and the United Torah Judaism bloc stayed away from the Knesset during the commotion.

Political sources said their behavior was linked to behind-the-scenes negotiations about proposed legislation that would prevent the import of non-kosher meat.

Labor has had intensive, discreet contacts with Shas designed to woo the fervently Orthodox Sephardic party back into the coalition fold.

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