Israel Goes to Polis Today to Elect New Parliament; 880,000 Voters to Cast Ballots
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Israel Goes to Polis Today to Elect New Parliament; 880,000 Voters to Cast Ballots

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Electioneering in this city ended this evening as the country prepared to go to the polls tomorrow in its second general election in two-and-a-half years. The sale of alcoholic beverages was prohibited throughout the country from 6 P.M. today through tomorrow night after the polls close, while electioneering also ended at 6 P.M., according to an agreement among the 17 parties contesting the election.

Until the deadline, electioneering was extremely hectic, but orderly. Although all the major parties held street parades and meetings, with marching, slogan shouting and banner waving, the police reported no incidents as the hotly contested campaign closed. This noon, most of the major parties had flying squads addressing factory workers during their lunch period.

The Central Elections Committee wound up its preparations for tomorrow’s ballotting with an announcement that 880,000 men and women are expected to vote in some 1,500 polling places. The Elections Committee set up temporary headquarters in the Ritz Hotel here, which is also the headquarters for the Government Information Service and the numerous resident and special correspondents from all over the world who are covering Israel’s second general elections.


The campaign to elect the 120 members of the second Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, starting slowly, gathered tremendous momentum with thousands of rallies being held throughout the country during the past month and the citizenry subjected to a barrage of election propaganda never before equalled in this part of the world. It is estimated here that all the parties combined will have spent between two-and-a-half and three million pounds ($7,000,000 to $8,400,000) on the election fight.

All the tricks of an American election were employed in this campaign. Automobiles fitted with loudspeakers roamed the streets of the cities by day and night blaring out party slogans and calls to party rallies. Billboards were plastered with party appeals. Illuminated signs flashed the letters identifying the party lists. Premier David Ben Gurion’s Mapai Party stole a march on its rivals by mounting a large Hebrew letter “Aleph,” the party designation, on rafts off the Tel Aviv shore, to keep the party before the eyes of strollers on the Tel Aviv boardwalk.

The major campaign activity was conducted by the Mapai and the General Zionist Party. The former is expected to head the list in the election results while the General Zionists are expected to roll up considerable gains in their Knesset representation. With the new immigrants generally conceded to hold the balance of power in the elections, the Mapai Party had been making a concerted drive to recruit the newcomers. Premier Gen Gurion toured the work camps established for the immigrants and the other immigrant centers seeking support for the Mapai party line of a government-planned economy with free production and enterprise. This policy, he declared in numerous speeches in recent days, is the most appropriate system for a country which, like Israel, is absorbing a large-scale immigration, and alone can prevent unemployment which would result in a restricted immigration.

The elections, in the opinion of most observers, will not result in far-reaching change on the political line-up here. The Mapai, it is generally conceded, will head the list and the General Zionists may become the second largest party. The religious parties, it is believed, will lose some seats as will the Herut. The Soviet-oriented Mapam Party, it is expected, will poll roughly the same number of votes as in the country’s first general elections, but may lose some seats since a larger number of votes will be required for election in view of the increase in the country’s population.


Premier David Ben Gurion last night denied statements to the effect that American Jewry disapproves of government planning and controls in Israel. Speaking at an election rally in Jaffa, the Premier declared that American Jewry is primarily interested in bringing to Israel Jews from all over the world who want or need to come to the Jewish state. For this purpose, he stressed, government planning and economic controls are necessary. He repeated the aim of his party to bring Israel’s Jewish population to 2,000,000 within the next four years and to establish 1,000 new settlements in that period.

The right of Zionists throughout the world to intervene in Israeli affairs was asserted here today by Dr. Israel Goldstein, former treasurer of the Jewish Agency and chairman of the World Confederation of General Zionists. In a statement to the press, the American Zionist leader declared that the average Israeli feels politically and economically insecure without assistance from abroad and, therefore, such intervention is an expression of legitimate and invited concern with Israeli affairs. Dr. Goldstein also demanded autonomy for territorial federations or groups such as the American Zionist Council in the implementation of Zionist Congress policy.

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