Prime Minister Moshe Sharett Is Born

October 15, 1894

Moshe Sharett is born as Moshe Shertok in Kherson, Ukraine. Sharett’s parents were early Zionists, having been involved in the BILU movement in the early 1880s when they moved to the Land of Israel, but ultimately did not stay. The family would return in 1906 eventually settling in Jaffa. Sharett attended the Herzliyah gymnasium school and later studied law in Constantinople. During World War I, he served in the Turkish army as a volunteer.

In 1933, after the assassination of Chaim Arlosoroff on a Tel Aviv beach, Moshe Sharett became the head of the Political Department of the Jewish Agency, second in power only to David Ben-Gurion, who served as the Agency’s Director. During World War II, Sharett established the Jewish Brigade, an independent, national Jewish military formation that fought as part of the British Army.

A signer of Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948, he became the country’s first foreign minister and led the delegation that brokered the cease fire agreements at the conclusion of the 1948 Independence War.

In 1953 when David Ben-Gurion announced that he was retiring as prime minister, Sharett was appointed as his successor by the Mapai Party and on January 26, 1954 he became Israel’s second prime minister. Ben-Gurion’s retirement would be short lived. Feeling that Sharett was too moderate and worried about Arab arms buildup, he returned as defense minister in 1955 in the wake of the Lavon Affair. The rift between Ben-Gurion and Sharett grew and Ben-Gurion regained control of the Mapai Party in time for the July 1955 elections which returned him to the Prime Minister’s office in November of that year.