JERUSALEM (Dec. 7)
David Ben Gurion, first Premier of the State of Israel, today handed his resignation to President Isaac Ben Zvi, after five and one-half years of service. The Premier walked to the President’s office, accompanied by his military aide and his secretary.
President Ben Zvi indicated later to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he will summon the leaders of the various parties tomorrow and begin the task of forming a new government. He said he would entrust the formation of a new Cabinet to the leader of the largest party–Mapai.
In his letter of resignation, Mr. Ben Gurion said he was confident of the President’s moral support in the formation of a new Cabinet, which will serve until the end of the term of the present Knesset. Expressing the hope that a new Cabinet would be formed without delay, Mr. Ben Gurion said he was “surprised” that for “some reason” his leaving the government had caused anxiety inside and outside Israel.
He did not share this concern, Mr. Ben Gurion said. “No state rests on one man, and surely not on me,” the letter declared. “I know my people as well as anyone and I have supreme confidence in their capacities, skill and will. Israel’s fate does not depend on who is Premier.”
The retiring Premier pointed out that this was the first time in the history of “our renewed state” that a Premier was leaving the government and that it was of supreme importance–from both the domestic and foreign point of view–that the parties which in the past have carried the burden of government shall continue to do so and that the Cabinet shall remain until the end of the term of Parliament.
PREMIERS COME AND GO, BUT GOVERNMENTS REMAIN, BEN GURION SAYS
“A Premier comes, a Premier goes,” Mr. Ben Gurion’s letter said, “but the government exists in law. I feel that such behaviour by my comrades in the Cabinet will be a blessing to the country and will increase its honor and prestige outside (the country) and will increase confidence inside.” He described such an action as one of political maturity. “To my regret such a Cabinet has not yet been formed, but I trust it will soon be established and my leaving will not cause any shocks,” he added.
In conclusion, Mr. Ben Gurion informed the President that the Cabinet had granted him leave as of tomorrow and had appointed Moshe Sharett, Acting Premier and Pinchas Lavon, Acting Defense Minister.
Tomorrow, Mr. Ben Gurion leaves Jerusalem for Sdeh Boker, the tiny Negev settlement where he will make his home. After inspecting the house which is being readied for his use, he will go to Tel Aviv for the week-end to liquidate his affairs. On Sunday he will return to Sdeh Boker to live there.
Meanwhile, Mr. Sharett announced Mr. Ben Gurion’s decision to resign in Knesset today and reported that the Premier had submitted his resignation to the President. Mr. Sharett reported that since the Cabinet had granted Mr. Ben Gurion leave, the latter remained nominally Premier, but that Mr. Sharett had been named Acting Premier and Mr. Lavon Acting Minister.
After the conclusion of Mr. Sharett’s report, Speaker Joseph Sprinzak opened the floor to debate. No one indicated any desire to discuss the resignation.