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Religious Bloc Ministers Resume Attending Cabinet Sessions; Crisis Believed Averted

February 23, 1950
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Religious Bloc Ministers in the Israel Cabinet, who have been abstaining from attending Cabinet meetings in the dispute over the education of religious immigrant children living in reception camps, participated in today’s session of the Cabinet. A terse communique issued at the close of the meeting merely said that the questions of foreign policy and education in the immigrant camps were discussed.

It was generally believed here that the decision by the Orthodox Ministers to resume attending Cabinet meetings — which came on the heels of a resolution adopted at an extraordinary Cabinet session summoned by Premier David Ben Gurion yesterday declaring that any Minister who absents himself from meetings of the Cabinet, or fails to carry out any Cabinet decisions, shall be regarded as having resigned — has averted the critical situation in the Israel Cabinet, brought about by the dispute over education for religious immigrant children, especially those from Oriental countries.

Meanwhile, the Parliament decided to refer to its legal committee the resolution adopted at the extraordinary Cabinet meeting. In reporting the resolution to the Parliament, Premier Ben Gurion said that no Minister can properly attend to the duties of his office if there is no collective responsibility for Cabinet decisions taken. Mr. Ben Gurion did not ask the Knesset to debate the matter now, but said the Knesset was free to do so if it wishes.

Immigration Minister Moshe Shapira then addressed the Knesset, stating that the Religious Bloc’s absence from Cabinet meetings was designed to underline the urgency of the problem of religious education to both the Government and the people.


The Mapai newspaper Davar, which generally mirrors the government’s views, welcomed the decision of the Religious Bloc Ministers to attend future Cabinet meetings. The paper said a uniform education system for immigrant children would be “most satisfactory,” but since this solution had been rejected by the disputants, a referendum among the parents would “be the best way out of the diffioulty.” Davar insisted that the “parents must not be deprived of their right to decide on the form of education their children should receive.”

Earlier, the Orthodox Ministers met with representatives of all religious groups in Israel — including the Agudas Israel, Mizrachi, Haceved Hadati, Otzar Hatorah and Hapoel Hamizrachi — and decided to institute a referendum in the immigrant camps populated by Jews from North Africa on the type of education they prefer for their children.

Meanwhile, the Ministerial committee of inquiry investigating education in the immigrant camps yesterday heard testimony presented by the head of the Ein Shemer reception camp and by two theological students who witnessed last week’s riot in camp for Yemenite Jews.

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