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Knesset Highlights:
Second Knesset

(1951 - 1955)


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The problem of Arab infiltrators from across the border was frequently dealt with by the second Knesset, and the debate on the issue came to a peak after the fatal attack on a bus at Ma'aleh Ha'akrabim in the Negev on March 18, 1954. The detention of the ship "Bat-Galim" by the Egyptian authorities on September 28, 1954, and the denial of passage of Israeli ships and cargoes destined for Israel though the Suez canal - all these were issues raised by the Israeli representatives to the UN and the Knesset members, parallel with the arrest of 13 Jews in Egypt on charges of spying for Israel, and the execution of two of them on 31 January, 1955.

This affair became known as the "essek bish" (the mishap), and bedeviled the ruling party Mapai, until the early 1960s. Israel continued in this period to contend with a difficult economic situation: a continuation of the policy of rationing, which led to the flourishing of a black market; problems of absorbing the mass immigration, the shortage in jobs, serious health problems, especially among new immigrants; harsh living conditions in the transition camps and the need to initiate massive construction of housing. In this period Israel adopted a national system of education, and cancelled most of the ideological streams in the system. It was also actively encouraging investment and the development of agriculture and industry.

The essence of the Israeli democracy and the relations between religion and state were amongst the topics that were frequently raised by Knesset members in the course of the debates on various issues. The workers' parties were busy with the split in the Kibbutz Hame'uhad movement (1951), the seamen's strike (1951), and the break-up of Mapam (1954).

The Kastzner affair, which came up against the background of accusations that Mapai member Dr. Israel Katzner had collaborated with the Nazis in order to save a group of Jewish Hungarian dignitaries, led to the resignation of the fifth government headed by Moshe Sharett.


Sources: The Knesset

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