The Main Events and Issues During the Second Knesset
The problem of Arab infiltrators from across the border was frequently dealt
with by the 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 18 March, 1954.
The detention of the ship "Bat-Galim" by the Egyptian authorities on 28
September, 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 2nd Knesset: The government table in the plenum, 3.11.1952.
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.
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