JERUSALEM (Jun. 16)
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion today took all of Israel by surprise in announcing, at the end of the regular Cabinet meeting, that he is resigning from his post “for personal reasons.” He followed up this announcement by submitting formally his resignation to President Shazar.
His dramatic resignation came as a surprise even to the members of the Cabinet. There was not the slightest indication of Ben-Gurion’s intention to announce his resignation when the Cabinet meeting started. He was presiding over the meeting and started it with a report on his communications with heads of various states on the situation in the Middle East.
After disposing with other routine matters on the agenda of today’s meeting, he made a simple announcement that because of personal reasons which are in no way linked to any matter of state, or to any particular event, he is submitting his resignation today to the President. He expressed regret that this calls automatically for the fall of the entire Cabinet, and stressed that this was not his intention. He expressed hope that his colleagues will set up a new government under the present coalition within one week.
WANTS ESHKOL TO TAKE HIS POST; RESIGNS ALSO FROM KNESSET
“The reasons for my resignation are my own and I am keeping them to myself,” he told the members of the Cabinet when questioned as to why he resigned. In submitting his resignation to President Shazar, Ben-Gurion reportedly intimated that he would consider Levi Eshkol, the present Finance Minister, as his worthy successor. The 68-year-old Eshkol is expected to be entrusted by President Shazar with the formation of the new Cabinet.
Mr. Ben-Gurion indicated that his resignation is irrevocable. Simultaneously with his resignation from the Premiership, he also sent a letter of resignation to the Speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, informing him that he is resigning also as member of Parliament. A formal announcement of Ben-Gurion’s resignation as Prime Minister will be made in the Knesset tomorrow, after which President Shazar will start the procedure of inviting leaders of various political parties to consult them on the formation of a new Government.
The news of Ben-Gurion’s resignation came like thunder from a clear sky to the people in Israel. It seems that even leaders of Ben-Gurion’s own Mapai party were not aware of his intention to resign. Mr. Ben-Gurion, who is also Israel’s Defense Minister, made his unexpected announcement at a time when Deputy Defense Minister Shimon Peres is in Paris together with Chief of Staff Zvi Tsur and the chief of Israel’s Air Force, Ezer Weizmann. Mr. Peres is expected to be back in Jerusalem tonight.