Ben Gurion, Suspended from Mapai Party, Calls Decision Arbitrary
Menu JTA Search

Ben Gurion, Suspended from Mapai Party, Calls Decision Arbitrary

Download PDF for this date

The Secretariat of the Mapai Party formally suspended David Ben Gurion and six of his foremost adherents from party membership this weekend. Formally, the suspension is tantamount to expulsion.

Mr. Ben Gurion, commenting today on the Secretariat’s decision, said: “This move is arbitrary and in violation of the truth of Mapai’s constitution. Nobody can announce in my name that I have left the party. Only I can do that. If the intention was to say that Ihave been expelled from the party, this too is untrue, for nobody is authorized by the party constitution to take such action and expel me from the party.”

The six Ben Gurion followers suspended from the party are all members of the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament. They are: Former Deputy Defense Minister Shinon Peres; Yosef Almogi, former Minister of Housing and Development; Amos Degani, Gideon Ben-Israel, Hannah Lamdan and Yizhar Smilansky. All had declared themselves in the Knesset as members of the new political faction called “Israel Workers List.” Mr. Peres and Mr. Almogi resigned from the Cabinet recently to Join the Ben-Gurion faction openly.

The Secretariat resolution charged that the founders of the “Israel Workers List” had “excluded themselves” from the party. The Mapai Control Commission ordered the party’s secretary-general to notify the suspended members of the action. The Secretariat instructed all party branches to act similarly against any party member who supports the new “list” directly or indirectly.


The Mapai Secretariat’s definitive action against the Ben-Gurion group came after the Knesset adjourned for the summer. The last session was marked by several political defeats for the Government. Eight of nine recommendations put before the session by the Mapai-dominated finance committee were voted down by the opposition, which was able to muster enough votes to put through its own versions.

Out of 39 government motions, 37 were defeated when the Government could obtain no more than tie votes. The Knesset is not scheduled to meet again until after the November elections, unless it is reconvened for a special session. Government quarters indicated that no such special session is contemplated at this time.

The Ben-Gurion faction conducted a large election rally here as soon as the Knesset had adjourned. An overflow audience reacted enthusiastically to the new faction’s program, which was announced at the meeting, held at the Habiman Theatre. The program urged a foreign affairs and security policy for Israel based on “self-reliance.”

The program also called for an extension by the next Knesset of the compulsory education law, to include pupils to the age of 16 as demanded “by the scientific and economic advancement of Israel,” Also urged was free post-elementary schooling for all.

The country’s economic program, the faction’s program noted, should be based on a drive for modernization and decent living standards founded on the assumption that economic independence is a prior condition to political independence.

In addressing the rally, Mr. Ben-Gurion said that his new list would have to “win 1,000,000 votes to have enough mandates to enact electoral reform.” He advocated pressing for a system patterned after that used in Scandinavia, with 30 constituencies in Israel, each electing four members to the Knesset.

Appearing at the rally unexpectedly was former Agriculture Minister Moshe Dayan, who, though a supporter of Ben-Gurion, declined to Join the new list. He was enthusiastically received when he sat next to Ben-Gurion. Mr. Peres also spoke.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund