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to the State. He read the names in alphabetical order and there was tension in the air before two names were read: The Arab Member of Knesset Tawfik Toubi, a member of the Communist Party (Maki) and Natan Yellin-Mor, a member of the Fighters' List established by ex-Lehi members. Yellin- Mor had been incarcerated after Lehi members assassinated the UN mediator, the Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte. He was released as part of a general amnesty issued in honor of the opening of the Constituent Assembly. The tension quickly dissipated as each one of them declared: "I Pledge."
The atmosphere was festive. The members of the various parties appeared in their finest clothing. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion was more festive than ever. The leader of "Herut," Menachem Begin, who later became Prime Minister, seemed joyous. The leaders of Mapam appeared, unlike most of the others, in open shirts without ties. The parties did not sit in permanent places, thus it turned out that the "Herut" Party sat together with Mapai and Mapam members.
Few guests were permitted to enter the hall. Then of course, there were the journalists. One of the more senior journalists, the editor of "Ma'ariv" Dr. Ezriel Carlebach, was impressed by the ceremony, and no less so than by the representatives of the Christian, Muslim and Druze congregations who were present in the hall in their various colorful outfits. Those same people, or at least some of them, who had issued harsh declarations against Jewish ambitions towards the Land of Israel just a few years before, had now arrived to declare their allegiance to the new regime.
Thousands, and perhaps even tens of thousands, gathered around the National Institutions Building. They climbed every tall building or tree and of course filled the streets, in an effort to follow those who arrived, the VIPs of the day.
The reports on the opening of the highest legislative institution of the young State of Israel, in Jerusalem no less, sent shock waves through the global media. The "New York Times", a newspaper not known for its support of Israel, was more empathetic than usual. Under the headline of "Spring in the Land of Israel," the newspaper congratulated Israel that had barely been a year old. It first praised the date of the gathering, Tu BiShvat, and defined it as "one of the most pleasant holidays on the Jewish Calendar." The newspaper noted that "the dream came true quickly and became a reality. The young State of Israel was born after great labor pains and it can expect growing pains as well." The newspaper sent its best wishes for the young country's success and hoped that "it would not be divided by acute partisan differences." It noted those who opposed the State in the Arab countries, wishing that Israel extend its hand to them as well as assist the Arab refugees and that "while it makes its deserts bloom, it brings the blessing of peace and prosperity to the entire Middle East."
The London-based "Daily Telegraph" was less supportive. It too wrote about the internal partisan differences in Israel and noted that in terms of its foreign relations, primarily with the UN, opening the Knesset in Jerusalem instead of Tel Aviv was an act of defiance. There were also good signs: The outcomes of the elections indicated political moderation and it remains to be seen what government Ben-Gurion builds.

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