Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Composition of New Israel Cabinet Announced in Knesset

December 23, 1952
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

David Ben Gurion today announced the composition of his new three-party coalition government to the Israel Parliament, following a brief review of the domestic and international situation. The parties in the new government are: Mapai, General Zionist and Progressives.

The Mapai members of the Cabinet are: Mr. Ben Gurion, Premier and Minister of Defense; Levi Eshkol, Minister of Finance; Dr. Peretz Naphtali, Minister of Agriculture; Behor Shitreet, Minister of Police; Golda Myerson, Minister of Labor and Public Works; Moshe Sharett, Minister for Foreign Affairs; Prof. Ben Zion Dinor (formerly Dinaburg), Minister of Education; Pinchas Lavon and Dr. Dov Joseph, Ministers without portfolio.

The General Zionist Ministers are: Dr. Peretz Bernstein, Minister for Commerce and industry; Israel Rokach, Minister of Interior; Joseph Saphir, Minister of Health; and Joseph Serlin, Minister for Communications. The lone Progressive Minister is Dr. Pinchas Rosen, Minister of Justice. The Welfare and Religion portfolios will be distributed within a week, Mr. Ben Gurion announced.


Outlining the program on which the new coalition will be based, the Premier said that it would accept joint responsibility for the defense of the country’s democratic regime and would exercise joint responsibility before the Knesset. It also provides; Hebrew shall be the official state language, but the Arab population shall be entitled to use its own language; the cost-plus system shall be eliminated from the economy of the country; output shall be increased; a general compulsory educational system shall be introduced for all children, with a religious education available for children whose parents prefer it.

The program also provides: absolute equality in the political and economic and other fields for Arab citizens; the Sabbath and Jewish holidays shall be holidays, but the minorities will have their own religious holidays; exit visas shall be abolished, except for security reasons; and a new electoral law shall be introduced in Parliament to end the fragmentation of parties.

Negotiations to induce the Mizrachi Laborites to join the new coalition government were still in progress as late as this afternoon and it was hoped by Premier Ben Gurion that these talks would bring the Orthodox workers into the Cabinet in which they were promised three seats. However, shortly before Parliament convened, the Mizrachi Laborite group sent a letter to the Premier stating that they were unable to join the government because their demands in the field of religious education were not granted.


Never before has Premier Ben Gurion commanded such a comfortable majority in Parliament as now. The pro-government majority in Parliament will consist of 77 deputies, out of the total of 120. It will include 45 Mapai members, 23 General Zionists, five Arab Democrats and four Progressives. The opposition will, for the time being, command 41 votes since it is known that two members of the Agudah Labor Party will not join the opposition but will abstain from voting on all issues.

The opposition may dwindle to 33 should the Mizrachi Laborites decide to join the new Cabinet. An indication that he still expects the Mizrachi Laborites to join the Cabinet was given by Premier Ben Gurion in his address in Parliament today during which he took leave of the two Mizrachi members of his old cabinet — Dr. Mordecai Nurok and Haim Cohen — but refrained from bidding farewell to two Mizrachi Laborite members of the former Cabinet.

Immediately after the Premier’s address, a six-hour debate began in Parliament with Meir Yaari, leader of the leftist Mapam Party, vigorously attacking the new government for allying itself with the centrist General Zionist group and “placing obstacles in the way of a rapproachment with the Eastern world.” The new government will receive a vote of confidence at the end of the debate in which all opposition groups will participate.

(In New York today, Dr. Israel Goldstein, president of the World Confederation of General Zionists, sent a cable of congratulations to Dr. Bernstein, leader of the Israel General Zionists, and to Dr. Rosen, leader of the Progressives. Dr. Goldstein declared that “the new coalition should be the source of new strength for Israel.)

Recommended from JTA