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Israel Cabinet Formally Accepts Ben Gurion As Defense Minister

February 21, 1955
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David Ben Gurion formally became Israel’s Minister of Defense today following a meeting of the Cabinet at which Premier Moshe Sharett reported on the resignation of Pinchas Lavon from the post which Mr. Ben Gurion has agreed to take over.

Premier Sharett gave a detailed account to the Cabinet of the reasons for Mr. Lavon’s resignation. An official announcement issued following the meeting of the Cabinet said that the resignation was precipitated by Mr. Sharett’s refusal to agree to Mr. Lavon’s proposals for changes in the defense set-up.

Mr. Ben Gurion’s dramatic return to office in the Israel Government, after 14 months of semi-retirement, was announced in a broadcast by Premier Sharett. According to reliable sources, Mr. Ben Gurion accepted the defense portfolio on the appeal of his party colleagues because of the gravity of the security situation and the possibility of a Cabinet crisis.


The Jerusalem Post, in an exclusive circumstantial report, described today the feverish activities which preceded the stunning announcement that the veteran Israel leader had agreed to emerge from retirement in the Negev to assume a key cabinet post. According to this paper’s report, Premier Sharett sent a delegation to Mr. Ben Gurion composed of two close associates in the Mapai Party, Labor Minister Golda Myerson and Mordechai Namir, secretary general of the Histadrut, the General Labor Federation of Israel. They gave Mr. Ben Gurion a full report of the situation with respect to Mr. Lavon and conveyed to him Mr. Sharett’s personal request that he assume the Defense portfolio.

Mrs. Meyerson left the Ben Gurion retreat at Sdeh Boker in the Negev and met Mr. Sharett at nine o’clock at Kibbutz Netzer Sereni, where he had participated in a memorial meeting. She gave the Premier Mr. Ben Gurion’s affirmative response and Mr. Sharett thereupon issued the statement which informed the nation of Mr. Ben Gurion’s return.

Sharp criticism of the procedure which led to Mr. Ben Gurion’s return to the Cabinet was voiced in the right and left-wing newspapers. These papers charged that no consideration had been given to the fact that Israel is governed by a coalition and asserted that neither Mr. Lavon himself, nor the General Zionists, Progressives and Religious Bloc members of the Cabinet had been informed of Mr. Sharett’s approach to Mr. Ben Gurion.

Mr. Sharett’s alleged failure to consult Mapai’s partners in the Cabinet came under heavy fire from Haaretz and Haboker, General Zionist organs, and from Hatzofeh, the Mizrachi paper. This failure, they asserted, made the Defense Ministry a “Mapai monopoly.”

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