Sharett Ousts General Zionists from Cabinet; Forms New Government
Menu JTA Search

Sharett Ousts General Zionists from Cabinet; Forms New Government

Download PDF for this date

Prime Minister Moshe Sharett today submitted the resignation of his Cabinet to President Itzhak Ben. Zvi, and was later in the day entrusted by the President to form a new Cabinet. It is expected that Mr. Sharett will form the new Cabinet during the day without having any General Zionists in it. The four portfolios held by the members of the General Zionist Party will probably be divided among the remaining members of the Cabinet, with no new members added.

The ousting by Premier Sharett of the four General Zionist members from his Cabinet came as a result of the fact that the General Zionist deputies in the Israel Parliament yesterday abstained from voting on two motions expressing non-confidence in the government. The motions were introduced separately by the Communists and by the right-wing Herut Party, neither of which is represented in the Cabinet. Both motions were defeated by a substantial majority. However, the General Zionists preferred to abstain from voting on them, thus infuriating the pro-Government Mapai Party which decided that the General Zionists can no longer be partners in the government since they don’t stand up for it.

The motions were presented in connection with the case of Dr. Israel Kastner who was charged by a District Court Judge that he collaborated with the Nazis and brought about the mass murder of many Jews in Hungary by the Nazis. The case has stirred up a good deal of commotion in Israel, and the Israel Minister of Justice has ordered the attorney general to appeal to the Supreme Court against the conclusions of the judge. Premier Sharett yesterday explained the government’s view on the matter and expected that, when the motions were to be taken to a vote, the General Zionists, who are partners in the Cabinet, would support the government. When they abstained, they were told by Mr. Sharett that he would force their resignation from the Cabinet, since they have broken the principle of collective responsibility.


This morning, Mr. Sharett visited President Ben Zvi and reported to him on the development and on his decision to resign in case the General Zionists will not agree to leave their Cabinet posts. After this visit, the Premier called a meeting of the Cabinet at which Dr. Pinhas Rosen, Minister of Justice and member of the Progressive Party, proposed to censure the General Zionists but to have them remain in the Cabinet. This compromise proposal was not accepted either by Sharett and the other Mapai ministers or by the General Zionists. The latter declared that they will not resign. Whereupon Mr. Sharett announced that he is resigning at once. According to the law, the Prime Minister’s resignation brings automatic resignation of the entire Cabinet. Mr. Sharett then proceeded to see President Ben Zvi and submitted his resignation.

At a press conference later, Mr. Sharett said that it is impossible for him to invite the General Zionists to the new Cabinet because they broke the principle of collective responsibility and their oath to the Parliament. He reiterated that the only cause for his ousting them from the Cabinet was their behavior at yesterday’s session of the Parliament, and their decision to abstain from voting in a non-confidence motion against the government in which they were members and shared collective responsibility, duties and obligations.

Prior to inviting Mr. Sharett to form a new government, President Ben-Zvi today conferred with leaders of ten fractions of the Parliament, including the leaders of the General Zionist Party. Political observers here are of the opinion that the new Cabinet which Mr. Sharett will form will based on a narrow coalition consisting of the Mapai, religious groups, Progressives and the Arabs belonging to the Mapai wing. He will thus manage to get a sufficient majority in Parliament before whom the new Cabinet will be brought for approval.

Leaders of the General Zionist Party today explained to the press the abstention of their deputies in Parliament from yesterday’s voting. They said that, had they voted with the government coalition parties on the proposed motions, they would have deepened the impression among the public that the government is identified with the Kastner case. The General Zionists, they claimed, were not consulted by the attorney general whether and when to file suit with the court in defense of Dr. Kastner, who is a government employe in the “Kol Israel” radio network, nor were they consulted on the plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.

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