The Israeli Knesset -- traditionally one of the most unruly parliaments in the world-- on Wednesday (13 June) had what witnesses called its rowdiest session ever.
The Israeli Knesset -- traditionally one of the most unruly parliaments in the world-- on Wednesday (13 June) had what witnesses called its rowdiest session ever. Harsh insults echoed around the chamber as the government quashed an Opposition move to debate the new and controversial, settlement of Elon Moreh on the West Bank. Socialist and Communist members shouted words such as 'hooligan', 'fascist' and 'fool' at Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon as he rose to defend the opening of the settlement a few days before on seized Arab land.
SYNOPSIS: The Knesset Presidium had decided on Monday (11 June) the Elon Moreh issue did not warrant an urgent debate, but Labour Alignment member, Josef Sarid raised it as an ordinary motion. Six cabinet ministers who had been in Alexandria for talks with Egypt's leaders on autonomy for the West Bank and Gaza strip, returned to Jerusalem to be in Knesset. If Elon Moreh was discussed Without them, Prime Minister Menachem Begin's government could have ben beaten in the vote.
Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon set off the uproar. He said he would differentiate between what he called 'anti Zionist motions' against Elon Moreh, and 'pro-Zionist and constructive proposals' which criticised the 'Peace Now' movement that opposes the settlement. He said another kilometre of road was being paved and another pipeline i the Elon Moreh region laid down while all the shouting went on. Mr. Sharon described opposition to the settlement as a fifth column intent on destroying Zionist ideals. Ironically, the clamour broke out just after members had considered plans to improve their behaviour in the Knesset. This proposed code includes a ban on interjections without the Speaker's permission.
The move by Labour and Communist parties to force a debate was defeated, after the turmoil,by thirty-nine votes to thirty-one. Political observers said the fierceness of the argument suggested that Mr. Begin may not be able to hold his ruling coalition government much longer.