Israel’s twelfth government in 15 years of statehood was sworn into office today in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, headed by former Finance Minister Levi Eshkol as Prime Minister. It was based on the same four party coalition as that of its predecessor under David Ben-Gurion.
The Knesset approved the new Government by a vote of 64 to 43 and the 15 member Government then took the oath of allegiance. The new Government was then received by President Shazar.
Prior to the confidence vote, Prime Minister Eshkol told the House that security was and would be the Government’s prime concern. He said the Government would abide by the Knesset resolution concerning West German scientists working on advanced weapons systems in Egypt, adding that various measures which could not now be disclosed were underway.
He declared that he saw a sign of earnest concern in the issue in three pending private bills before the West German Bundestag to outlaw such activities by West Geman nations abroad. He said the parties backing the bills represented an overwhelming majority.
He urged the Knesset, however, to drop any illusions that this was the main threat to Israel’s security. The danger, he stressed, came from the wide variety of conventional weapons which continued to flow into the Arab states. Turning to his critics on the left, he asked: “Who but the Soviets are aggravating the Middle East arms race?”
He appealed to both sides on Israel’s religious question to observance tolerance and understanding of opposite views and not to exacerbate the problems in this sensitive field. He noted that prior governments had worked out a modus vivendi based on maintaining the status quo.
He assured the Arab and Druze minorities in Israel that their rights would be safe guarded and he expressed appreciation for the support his administration had been tendered earlier in the day by a deputation of minorities.
The only new member of the Cabinet sworn in today was Zalman Aranne as Minister of Education, replacing Abba Eban, who was named to a new post as Deputy Premier. Mr. Eshkol’s Finance Ministry was given to Pinhas Sapir, who continued as Minister of Commerce and Industry. Premier Eshkol also serves as Defense Minister, as did Mr. Ben Gurion.
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