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Moshe Sharett

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Collection: 1894 Births, 1965 Deaths, Alumni of the London School of Economics, Heads of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Herzliya Gymnasia Alumni, Imperial Russian Emigrants to the Ottoman Empire, Israeli Jews, Israeli Party Leaders, Israeli People of Ukrainian-Jewish Descent, Istanbul University Alumni, Jewish Israeli Politicians, Jewish Politicians, Jews in Mandatory Palestine, Jews in Ottoman Palestine, Mapai Politicians, Members of the 1St Knesset (1949–51), Members of the 2Nd Knesset (1951–55), Members of the 3Rd Knesset (1955–59), Members of the 4Th Knesset (1959–61), Members of the 5Th Knesset (1961–65), Members of the Assembly of Representatives (Mandatory Palestine), Members of the Knesset, Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Israel, Ottoman Military Personnel of World War I, People from Kherson, People from Kherson Governorate, Prime Ministers of Israel, Signatories of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, Sokolov Prize Recipients, Ukrainian Jews, Ukrainian Zionists
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Moshe Sharett

Moshe Sharett
משה שרת
2nd Prime Minister of Israel
In office
26 January 1954 – 3 November 1955
President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Preceded by David Ben-Gurion
Succeeded by David Ben-Gurion
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
15 May 1948 – 18 June 1956
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion
Preceded by New office
Succeeded by Golda Meir
Personal details
Born Moshe Shertok
(1894-10-16)16 October 1894
Kherson, Russian Empire
Died 7 July 1965(1965-07-07) (aged 70)
Jerusalem, Israel
Nationality  Russian Empire
 Ottoman Empire
 United Kingdom
Spouse(s) Tzipora Meirov
Children 3
Alma mater Istanbul University
London School of Economics

Moshe Sharett (Hebrew: משה שרת‎, born Moshe Shertok (Hebrew: משה שרתוק)‎ 16 October 1894 – 7 July 1965)[1] was the second Prime Minister of Israel (1954–55), serving for a little under two years between David Ben-Gurion's two terms.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • Post-World War I 1.2
    • Israeli independence 1.3
    • Retirement 1.4
  • Legacy 2
  • Gallery 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Early life

Born in Kherson in the Russian Empire (today in Ukraine), Sharett emigrated to Ottoman Palestine in 1906. In 1910 his family moved to Jaffa, and they became one of the founding families of Tel Aviv.

He graduated from the first class of the Herzliya Hebrew High School, even studying music at the Shulamit Conservatory. He then went off to Constantinople to study law at Istanbul University, the same university at which Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and David Ben-Gurion studied. However, his time there was cut short due to the outbreak of World War I. He subsequently served as a First Lieutenant in the Ottoman Army, as an interpreter.[2]

Post-World War I

After the war, he worked as an Arab affairs and land purchase agent for the Assembly of Representatives of the Yishuv. He also became a member of Ahdut Ha'Avoda, and later of Mapai.

In 1922 he went to the London School of Economics, and while there he actively edited the Workers of Zion. One of the people her met while in London was Chaim Weizmann.[3] He then worked on the Davar newspaper from 1925 until 1931.

In 1931, after returning to Israel, he became the secretary of the Jewish Agency's political department. After the assassination of Haim Arlosoroff in 1933 he became its head. Shareet as Ben-Gurion's ally denounced Irgun's assassination squads on December 13, 1947, accusing them of playing to public feelings. Atrocities escalated, mainly upon Jews, but with reciprocal revenge killings; by the end of the war 6000 Palestinian Jews, 1% of the population had died. He held the foreign policy post under the Agency until the formation of Israel in 1948.[4] The main culprits on the Jewish side were Palmach, whose brigade, with help from the Haganah patrolled the Negev, saving it for Israel.

Israeli independence

Sharett was one of the signatories of Israel's Declaration of Independence. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, he was Foreign Minister for the Provisional Government of Israel. Yaegal Allon went to see Sharett at Tel Binyamin, his home. Allon wanted permission to capture El-Arish, destroy the base to prevent it falling into British hands. Allon could not find Ben-Gurion at Tel Aviv, because the Prime mInister was at Tiberias. But Sharett told the General that it would be unconstitutional to order an attack over the head of the Prime Minister. Moreover it would provoke, thought Sharett the British to side with the Egyptians. When Allon explained a Plan to feint an Egyptian withdrawal before invading the area between Rafa and Gaza, well within Israel's borders, Sharett gave it the nod. But on the telephone Ben-Gurion totally rejected the proposal. President Truman ordered troops withdrawals from the war zone, and on 1st Jan 1949, Israeli troops left Sinai and evacuated El-Arish. After a brief Egyptian counter-attack a ceasefire was called, but Israelis were marooned in the Falujah Pocket; they had saved the Negev for good.[5]

He was elected to the Knesset in the first Israeli election in 1949, and served as Minister of Foreign Affairs. On 10 March he was part of the first cabinet. An historic armistice was signed with Lebanon, so withdrawal was required from southern Lebanon on 23 March. Negotiations took place on the Greek island of Rhodes on Suneh, King Abdullah's residence when Israel's emissaries, Yigael Yadin and Walter Eytan signed with Transjordan. Knowing the Jordanian position on the Hebron hills, Yadin told Sharett that surrounded by hostile Arab states, Israel had to sign the Transjordan over to Iraq. Dr Ralph Bunche, who drafted the UN treaty for Sharett's office received the Nobel Peace Prize. The final agreement was signed at the Hotell des Roses on April 3, 1949. Ominous violence lay ahead for the new state, earned Sharett at the Knesset in a debate on June 15, in which he reminded the Jewish people of their vital interests. A fourth and final agreement was signed wirh Syria on 17 July; the War of Independence had lasted one year and seven months. In the elections that followed Labour formed a coalition, deliberately at Ben-Gurion's behest excluding Herut and the Communists.[6]

In this role he established diplomatic relations with many nations, and helped to bring about Israel's admission to the UN. He continuously held this role until he retired in June 1956 including during his period as Prime Minister.

In the debate on how to deal with the increasing infiltration of fedayeen across the borders in the years leading to the 1956 Suez Crisis, Sharett was skeptical of the reprisal operations being carried out by the Israeli military.

Sharrett met with Pius XII in 1952 in an attempt to improve relations with the Holy See, although this was to no avail.[7]

In January 1954 David Ben-Gurion retired from politics (temporarily as it turned out), and Sharett was chosen by the party to take his place. During his time as Prime Minister the Arab-Israeli conflict intensified, particularly with the Egypt of Nasser and the Lavon Affair occurred, resulting in the resignation of Pinhas Lavon, the Defense Minister. As a result David Ben-Gurion returned to the government as Defense Minister. At the next elections in November 1955 Ben-Gurion replaced Sharett as head of the list and became prime minister.[8][9][10][11] Sharett retained his role as Foreign Minister under the new government of Ben-Gurion.


After stepping down as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sharett retired in June 1956. During his retirement he became chairman of Trumpeldor Cemetery.[12][13]


Moshe Sharett on 20 NIS banknote

Sharett's personal diaries, first published by his son Yaakov in 1978, have proved to be an important source for Israeli history.[14] In 2007, the Moshe Sharett Heritage Society, the foundation that Yaakov established to care for Sharett's legacy, discovered a file of thousands of passages that had been omitted from the published edition.[14] They included "shocking revelations" about the defense minister Pinhas Lavon.[15] A new edition was published that was complete apart from a few words still classified.[15]

Many cities have streets and neighborhoods named after him.

Since 1987, Sharett has appeared on the 20 NIS bills. The bill first featured Sharett, with the names of his books in small print, and with a small image of him presenting the Israeli flag to the United Nations in 1949. On the back of the bill, there was an image of the Herzliya Hebrew High School, from which he graduated.

In 1998 the bill went through a graphic revision, the list of Sharett's books on the front side was replaced by part of Sharett's 1949 speech in the UN. The back side now features an image of Jewish Brigade volunteers, part of a speech by Sharett on the radio after visiting the Brigade in Italy, and the list of his books in small print.



  1. ^ Moshe Sharett, Knesset biography
  2. ^
  3. ^ C.Shindler, A History of Modern Israel, pp.98-9
  4. ^
  5. ^ M Gilbert, Israel, p.243-8
  6. ^ M Gilbert, Israel, pp.260-5
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Erskine B. Childers, The Road to Suez- A study in Western-Arab relations. Macgibbon & Kee, Bristol. 1962. page 184: Suggests Sharett's resignation as Foreign Minister on 18 June 1956 was due to his opposition to plans for military action against Egypt.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^ a b

External links

  • Moshe Sharett Heritage Society The official site about Moshe Sharett
  • Moshe Sharett Jewish Virtual Library
  • Moshe Sharett Jewish Agency for Israel
  • The Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem site: The Office of Moshe Sharett (S65), Personal papers (A245).
  • Livia Rokach: Israel's Sacred Terrorism: A Study Based on Moshe Sharett's Personal Diary and Other Documents , Foreword by Noam Chomsky, 1980.
Political offices
Preceded by
David Ben-Gurion
Prime Minister of Israel
Succeeded by
David Ben-Gurion
Party political offices
Preceded by
David Ben-Gurion
Leader of Mapai
Succeeded by
David Ben-Gurion
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