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Knesset Confirms Ben Gurion’s Appointment; Lavon Pays Him Tribute

February 23, 1955
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Confidence in the leadership of David Ben Gurion, who was sworn in yesterday in Parliament as Minister of Defense, was expressed today by Pinchas Lavon, his predecessor, at a farewell party tendered in Mr. Lavon’s honor by Israel Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Moshe Dayan and high officials of the Defense Ministry. Gen. Dayan praised Mr. Lavon and revealed that during the 14 months of his service as Minister of Defense all military forces on land, sea and air, have been strengthened.

Mr. Ben Gurion’s re-entrance into political life took on the character of a triumphal return when thousands of persons lining Parliament Square here cheered him as he entered the Knesset to take the oath of office as Minister of Defense yesterday.

The Khaki-shirted, bronzed ex-Premier was confirmed in his new office by a vote of 74 to 22, after declarations by various party spokesmen who took the floor following Premier Moshe Sharett’s official announcement of the resignation of Pinchas Lavon and Mr. Ben Gurion’s appointment.

Paying tribute to Mr. Lavon’s role in initiating, sponsoring and directing a series of valuable improvements to the nation’s defenses, Mr. Sharett said that the Army’s organization and fighting capacity had been greatly enhanced under Mr. Lavon’s direction. Turning to his appointment of Mr. Ben Gurion, Mr. Sharett said;

“I felt convinced that no candidate would have the prospect of discharging the tasks more successfully or enjoy a greater amount of the nation’s confidence than the man who established the Defense Army of Israel, who led it in the days of its supreme test, who consolidated its foundations for the future and to which his love and devotion have always been pledged.” The Prime Minister also expressed the thanks of his government, as well as his own appreciation, that Ben Gurion had accepted the post, “not without difficult heart searchings.”

Left-wing deputies, Communists and Herut party spokesmen made declarations of no confidence in the new appointment, and charged that Mr. Ben Gurion represents no change in security policy since Mr. Lavon was his protege and faithful pupil. Other criticism voice concerned the “undemocratic way in which the appointment was made, namely, without the Cabinet’s consultation.”

Zalman Ben Yaacov, speaking for Agudath Israel, said that his party supports the new Defense Minister despite the fact that Rabbi I. M. Levin, Agudah leader, resigned from the government under his administration as Premier over religious issues. He added that the Agudah wished to demonstrate the country’s solidarity with Mr. Ben Gurion in view of the grave security situation. He expressed the hope that a “strong man” who enjoys the country’s trust, would not disappoint the Orthodox elements of Israel.

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