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Moshe Sharett

1894 - 1955.


Moshe Sharett was an active Zionist leader, the first Foreign Minister of Israel, and its Second Prime Minister.

He led the early days of the State of Israel alongside David Ben-Gurion and assisted in Jewish immigration from Arab countries after the Six-Day War.

Born in Ukraine, he arrived in Israel (then part of the Ottoman Empire) at age 12 with his family.

His family moved to Tel Aviv and was among its founding families.

Sharett was a member of the first graduating class of the first Hebrew high school in the country, the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium (founded by Haim Bograshov and others), and pursued his studies in Istanbul and London. He fluently spoke Arabic and Turkish.

In 1931, he became secretary of the Jewish Agency and the head of its political section. This led him to be responsible for interceding with the British Mandatory authorities, to create a Jewish home in Palestine (1933-1948).

In 1947, he was sent to the United Nations to defend the Zionist project.

In 1948, he signed Israel's Declaration of Independence.

As the first Foreign Minister of the young State, he had the mission of negotiating the Israeli-Arab cease-fire agreements following the War of Independence. On that occasion, he changed his family name from Shertok to Sharett. He also dedicated much of his time as Minister to reparations issues from Germany. In 1952 he signed a reparations agreement with West Germany.

In 1953, when Ben-Gurion retired to Kibbutz Sde Boker, Moshe Sharett was appointed his successor by the Mapai party. He ensured the alternation after David Ben-Gurion's political withdrawal, and became the second Prime Minister of Israel, until the end of 1955 (a total period of 21 months).

When Ben-Gurion returned to political life in November 1955, Sharett yielded the post of Prime Minister to him but remained Foreign Minister until June 1956, the year he resigned due to strong disagreements with Ben Gurion.

This discord was compounded by an unhealthy relationship where Ben-Gurion’s authority overshadowed his entire Prime Ministerial tenure.

In 1960 Sharett was elected by the World Zionist Congress as Chairman of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency.

Overall, his leadership as the second Prime Minister is often forgotten. Moshe Sharett is mainly remembered as the first Foreign Minister, who shaped Israel's Foreign Ministry policy.

In this YouTube video (00:14), we see Moshe Sharett in the United Nations 1949 assembly, welcoming Israel as one of its members.

On this one, you will see a short explanatory video about his life.

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