Service Bill for Women Introduced in Knesset; Passage Expected
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Service Bill for Women Introduced in Knesset; Passage Expected

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The controver?ial National Service Bill which provides for two years of non-military service for women in Israel exempt from military service because of religious convictions, was introduced in Parliament today, while religious elements in the city held a large demonstration in protest against the bill.

The city’s main street was jammed by demonstrators and onlookers, who seemed to outnumber the participants. Marchers came out of the narrow crooked streets of the religious quarter and converged on the center of the city. A short distance from Parliament the marchers halted and participated in a ceremony at which special prayers were recited and shofars wre blown. Then the demonstrators dispersed peacefully.

The block surrounding Parliament, an area in which demonstrator may not legally enter, was guarded by hundreds of steel helmeted policemen armed with rubber clubs. No unauthorized persons were allowed to enter the block. One of the interesting features of the protest rally was a special prayer service in the Great Synagogue in the Zikhron Jacob quarter in which religious persons of all ages sat cross-legged and repeated the prayers which were first broadcast over a loudspeaker.


The Knesset Rules Committee allotted three hours to the debate on the national service measure and it is expected that the bill will pass its first reading tonight. Early this morning, Agudah leader Rabbi I.M. Lewin made a final, unsuccessful attempt to get Acting Premier Moshe Sharett to delay introduction of the measure.

The central committees of the Mizrachi and Poale Mizrachi parties met today to decide what stand to take in the Knesset. It is known that Lamifneh, one faction within the Labor Mizrachi, will vote with the government. Moshe Shapiro, Poale Mizrachi leader, said “the entire party is united on this question.”

Mrs. Golda Myerson, Minister of Labor, who presented the bill, said that it was the intent of the government to increase the available labor power by drafting Orthodox young women who were unable to serve in the Army for religious or family reasons for other jobs. She said they would be able to do their duty to the state by serving either in religious institutions or schools or in religious settlements or in immigrant villages.

“These girls will not be taken from their homes. They will work all day at their allotted jobs, returning at night to their homes,” she declared.

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