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Knesset Highlights: First Knesset

(1949 - 1951)

The first Knesset was elected before the end of the War of Independence, and its location changed several times before it moved up from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Naturally, the first Knesset dealt with a good deal of original legislation and the amendment of laws, orders and regulations left over from the British Mandatory period.

The first Knesset adopted a resolution regarding the preparation of a constitution for the state, chapter by chapter in the form of basic laws (the Harari resolution).

On December 5, 1949, the Prime Minister made an announcement in the Knesset regarding Jerusalem and the holy places, in reaction to the UN proposal that the city be internationalized. David Ben-Gurion declared, that "Jewish Jerusalem is an integral and inseparable part of the State of Israel, just as it is an inseparable part of the history of Israel, the faith of Israel and the spirit of our people."

The first Knesset held numerous debates on issues connected with the War of Independence and its termination; The organization and functioning of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the rights of demobilized soldiers; the absorption of the mass immigration, including the problem of immigrant transition camps and the special problems of the immigrants from Yemen, whose representatives were elected to the first Knesset; the issue of ideological streams in the education system, which caused numerous coalition crises; health problems created as a result of the mass immigration; the housing shortage and the beginning of mass construction; the shortage in jobs and the beginning of government initiated public works; the economic policy - especially the issue of taxation, the shortage in "hard" currency and the American loan, rationing of basic products and the phenomenon of black-marketing.

Foreign policy issues which were dealt with concerned Israel's acceptance as a member of the UN in 1949, the Three Power Declaration regarding the armaments and security of the Arab countries and Israel and Israel's relations with various countries. The Knesset also dealt with the situation of the Jews in the various dispersions; the policy towards the Arab citizens of the state and the problem of "abandoned property" left behind by the War of Independence refugees.

Sources: The Knesset