Ben-Gurion Delivers Report to Provisional Government

David Ben-Gurion delivers a report to the Provisional Government on the status of the 1948 War with the neighboring Arab states, discussions with the United Nations and the domestic needs of a young country at war.  The report comes as both Israel and the Arab League announce their intentions to accept a truce appeal from the United Nations.

Following the United Nations passage of Resolution 181 in November 1947 and the British administration over Palestine approaching its conclusion, the Va’ad Leumi (National Council) begins preparations for a Provisional Government to lead the soon-to-be established Jewish nation.   First established was Minhelet HaAm (People’s Administration), which lasts 10 days, from May 4, 1948 through May 14, 1948.

On the 14th, with the delivery of the Declaration of Independence, HaMemshela HaZmanit (literally: Independent Government) is established.  It consists of fifteen ministerial cabinet positions, many of which are still in place.  This represents a consolidation from the Jewish Agency, the quasi Jewish government during the Mandate, which had forty departments.

Ben-Gurion, serving as both Prime Minister and Minister of Defense for the Provisional Government, focusses on three areas in his report: military, political and domestic.  In addressing the status of the war with the neighboring Arab states; he accuses the British of directly assisting the Arab war effort, reports on the situation in Jerusalem, highlighting the heroic resistance of the city’s residents, and praises the army for its success in not only repelling Arab forces but in taking the offensive.  He states, “the entire expanse of the State of Israel allocated to us under the terms of the UN resolution is in our hands, and we have conquered several important districts outside those boundaries… we will remain constantly on the offensive, which will not be confined to the borders of the Jewish State.”

Domestically, the Prime Minister highlights the early success of the country in establishing public services and the large number of immigrants who have arrived despite the ongoing hostilities.  He concludes by informing the Council that the dissident military groups, the Irgun (Etzel) and Lehi (Stern Gang) have agreed to disband and join the IDF.  Despite this pronouncement, Ben-Gurion expresses doubt that this promise will be kept.  His doubts are realized just a few weeks later when the Altalena incident threatens to divide the young state, when former Irgun commander Menachem begin tries to divert weapons to Irgun forces still active in the defense of Jerusalem.

The cease fire goes into effect on June 11 and lasts nearly a month before it is broken by an Egyptian attack in the Negev on July 8.

The photo shows a meeting of the Provisional Government on January 1, 1949.  From left to right: Eliezer Kaplan, Yitzhak Greenboim, Bechor Sheetrit, David Ben-Gurion, Government Secretary Zeef Sherf, Pinhas Rosen, Haim Moshe Shapira, Rabbi Levin, Rabbi Maimon and Peretz Bernstein .

Photo Source: The Knesset