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Ben-gurion Forms Five-party Coalition Cabinet; Presents It to Knesset

December 17, 1959
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A five-party coalition Cabinet, mustering 86 of 120 votes in the Knesset, was presented to the Parliament tonight by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.

The new Government consists of: David Ben-Gurion, Premier and Defense Minister; Golda Meir, Foreign Minister; Levi Eshkol, Finance Minister; Giora Josephtal, Minister of Labor; Moshe Dayan, Minister of Agriculture; Zalman Aranne, Minister of Education; Behor Shitreet, Minister of Police; Abba Eban, Minister Without Portfolio, all of Mapal.

Pinchas Rosen of the Progressive party is listed as Minister of Justice; Moshe Shapiro as Interior Minister and Dr. Joseph Burg Minister of Social Welfare, both of the National Religious party. The two Mapam Ministers in the new Cabinet are Mor-decai Bentov, Minister of Development and Israel Barzilai, Minister of Health. The Ministry of Transport went to Yitzhak Ren-Aharon of Achdut Avodah. Rabbi Jacob Toledano continued as Minister for Religious Affairs on a non-party basis.

The position of Minister of Posts will be held temporarily by Mr. Ben-Gurion in reserve for the General Zionist party, in view of the fact that General Zionists intimated today that they were reconsidering the possibility of Joining the new coalition. The General Zionists were reported to want two portfolios but were nevertheless believed ready to accept one portfolio and one Ministry without portfolio.


The new coalition, while made up of the same parties as those in the previous Cabinet is stronger because of the increased number of seats won by the Mapai and the National Religious party in the November 3 elections.

Participation of Mapam and Achdut Avodah was effected at the last minute when agreement was reached on the question of Cabinet collective responsibility, the issue on which Mr. Ben Gurion resigned the prior coalition in a dispute with the two left-wing parties.

The agreement provides that Ministers may abstain from voting on a Government bill if the issue involves “matters of conscience” However, if a Minister votes against a Government bill, he will be obliged to resign automatically.

The program of the new government, presented to the Knesset with the list of new Ministers, appeared to be generally along the lines of that of the previous government, although with some significant changes and additions, including the agreement on collective responsibility of all Ministers.


The program expresses support for every step toward general world disarmament and abolition of all armed forces with effective international controls. The program proposed that until such world disarmament was carried out, the Israel Government would offer to the Arab countries an agreement leading to full disarmament and abolition of armed forces in Israel and the Arab states, on condition there would be constant free mutual inspection and that neither borders nor sovereignty would be affected.

Israel will propose to all Arab countries the expansion of the ten-year-old armistice agreements by non-aggression pacts providing also for cessation of all political, military and economic acts of hostility. The program reiterated that Israel would not be a party to nor support any aggressive alliance and would strive for friendly relations with all countries without regard to their internal regimes.

In economic areas, the program was the same as that of the prior Government, particularly in noting that the cost of living allowance system would be retained. For the first time, also, the program explicitly stated that the implementation of the national water program would be speeded up and the project to bring Jordan River water to the Negev would be expedited.

Former Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan, the new Minister of Agriculture, is the youngest at 44 of the four new Ministers. Abba Eban, former Israel Ambassador to the United States, is four months older than Dayan. Dr. Josephtal, the new Minister of Labor, is 47. Born in Nuremberg, Germany, he holds a doctorate and served in the British Forces in World War II.

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