Israel Cabinet Rejects Proposal to Cancel Arms Deal with Germany
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Israel Cabinet Rejects Proposal to Cancel Arms Deal with Germany

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A joint proposal by the left-wing members of the Israel Cabinet–the Mapam and Ahdut Avodah–demanding that Israel should cancel its arms deal with West Germany was voted down at today’s special meeting of the Cabinet at which the issue was discussed.

Following the vote, Premier David Ben Gurion challenged the right of the left-wing Cabinet members to bring the same proposal before the Parliamentary Committee for Security and Foreign Affairs. He announced that he would fight such a proposal at the Committee as unconstitutional, since only the government has the prerogative to negotiate with foreign powers. The bringing of such a proposal to the Committee by members of his own Cabinet would be considered by him as an act of non-discipline, he warned.

After hurling this challenge, the Premier left the Cabinet meeting which, however, continued without him for 90 minutes. His leaving the meeting was regarded as an ultimatum, and the meeting ended inconclusively to be resumed tonight after the session of the Knesset (Parliament) at which a motion of non-confidence in the government–introduced by the Communists–will be debated.

Meanwhile, it was announced today that the General Zionist Party, which is not represented in the Cabinet, decided to support Israel’s arms deal with West Germany. A resolution to this effect was adopted last night by the executive committee of the party. The resolution instructs the members of the party in the Parliament to oppose cancellation of the deal.

The General Zionist executive took this stand as a result of a meeting which its leaders had earlier yesterday with Premier Ben Gurion at which the arms deal issue was discussed. The Premier also met with leaders of other opposition parties–the National Religious Party and the Agudah Party–whom he informed about the background of the arms deal and the developments that led to the current disagreement between himself and the leftist partners of the coalition government.


Mr. Ben Gurion made no offer to the opposition parties to participate in a caretaker government, but declared he regarded it as his duty to explain the situation to the “responsible opposition.” The only members of the opposition not invited to the meeting were those leading the right-wing Herut Party and the Communists.

Gen. Moshe Dayan, former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, staunchly supported Mr. Ben Gurion on the arms-to-Germany issue, in a broadcast last night over Kol Israel, the Israel radio. Gen, Dayan debated the issue with Dr. Yohanan Bader, a member of Parliament representing Herut.

Dr. Bader, insisting that the “moral aspect” of the issue was of utmost importance, declared that the arms deal “desecrates the memory of 6,000,000 Jews” for the sake of “several million dollars.” Gen. Dayan held that the Jews who perished at the hands of German Nazis during World War II would endorse the arms deal.

Those who perished, Gen. Dayan said, would tell the present generation: “Don’t let such things be repeated.” According to him, such an injunction would mean that Israel must strengthen itself, “and, to this end, the present arms deal contributes greatly.” The for mer army head declared he saw no harm in sending grenade launchers to West Germany, “just as France, which is Israel’s closest friend, is doing, and just as France is even co-operating with Germany in the armament field”

It was expected that the Mapam and Ahdut Avodah deputies in Parliament will vote against the non-confidence motion submitted by the Communists, but will insist on the cancellation of the arms deal when the issue is brought before the Parliamentary Committee on Security and Foreign Affairs.

The Security and Foreign Affairs Committee is scheduled to meet tomorrow, and Premier Ben Gurion indicated that, if the two left-wing groups in his coalition government raise the issue there, he will submit to the Israel Parliament the resignation of the entire Cabinet, with a view to forming a caretaker government.

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