October 22, 1952
Eliahu Elath presents his credentials to Queen Elizabeth II and becomes Israel’s first Ambassador to the United Kingdom (officially called the Ambassador to the Court of St. James).
Elath, who was born Ilya Menakhemovich Epstein in Russia, had settled in the Land of Israel in 1924. In 1934 he directed the Middle East Department of the Jewish Agency and in 1945, he became the head of the Jewish Agency’s Political Office in Washington DC. In May 1948, it was Elath who notified President Truman of Israel’s establishment and who in turn received the U.S. government’s recognition of the new state. Elath would then serve as Israel’s first Ambassador to the United States until 1950, when he became a minister to the United Kingdom.
Upon becoming Ambassador to the UK, Elath remarked, “This is certainly a great day, not only for we who participate in the memorable and important ceremony, but, I believe also for Israel and the Jewish community in this country who are to some extent viewing the completion of long plans which started on November 2, 1917 the day the Balfour Declaration was issued and led to today.” A spokesman for the British Foreign Office said, “The elevation of Mr. Elath from Israel Minister to Ambassador to the Court of St. James is one more event which marks the furthering of closer and more cordial relations between the UK and Israel.” (Quotes from The Jerusalem Post, October 22, 1952.)
Elath served in London until 1959; from 1962 to 1968, he was the President of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He died in 1990.