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Knesset Highlights: Tenth Knesset

(1981 - 1984)

The main event during the term of the tenth Knesset was "Operation Peace for the Galilee," which began in June 1982. The declared goal of the operation was to remove the shelters of the Palestinian terrorists from southern Lebanon, and its broader goal was to cause the election in Lebanon of a government that would be willing to sign a peace agreement with Israel and liquidate the PLO.

The operation, which at first enjoyed a broad consensus in Israel, rapidly turned into the focus of disagreement that manifested itself in the street and in the debates of the Knesset.

The controversy intensified following the massacre of Palestinian refugees in the camps of Sabra and Shatilla near Beirut, which was planned and implemented by one of the Christian militias. The Kahan investigative committee, which was appointed in November 1982, found that political and military factors had not acted to prevent the act. These findings brought about the resignation of Ariel Sharon from his position as Minister of Defense.

Operation Peace for the Galilee also caused a serious deterioration in Israel's international status. Simultaneously with the effort to liquidate the PLO, Village Leagues were set up in Judea and Samaria with the hope that an alternative Palestinian leadership would emerge. In the course of the term of the tenth Knesset the Israeli law was applied to the Golan Heights, and the withdrawal from the Sinai was completed with the evacuation of Yamit.

In the economic sphere the collapse of the bank shares took place, which resulted in the bank shares of all the major Israeli banks, except the First International, being held by the government. The grave financial state of the local authorities also came up for debate. Toward the end of the term of the tenth Knesset, the rate of inflation reached a three digit figure, and the "Dollarization plan" of Minister of Finance Yoram Aridor came up. In this period the government decided to undertake two major prestigious projects: that of the Mediterranean-Dead Sea Canal, and that of the Lavi fighter plane. Both projects were debated by the Knesset.

In the economic sphere, as a result of the narrow majority of the government, the religious parties tried to change the religious status quo. Their main success was in stopping El Al flights on Saturday (Shabbat). Unrelated to the flights on Saturday, after a long period of strikes in El Al, the national airline was placed in the hands of a termporary receiver.

In this period the ultra religious group "Atra Kadisha" intensified its activities, and the problem of the ancient graves found in the building site of the "Hamat Gader" hotel in Tiberias, came up for debate in the Knesset.

Additional issues that came up for debate in the tenth Knesset were the murder of Peace Now activist Emil Grunsweig, the apprehension of the members of the Jewish Underground, the No. 300 bus affair and the murder by Arabs of the boy Danny Katz in Haifa. The Knesset also dealt with the Prisoners of Zion and the growing number of emigrants (yordim). On May 5, 1982, the Knesset held a special debate on the foundations of the Israeli parliamentary system.

Sources: The Knesset