Declaration of Independence
14 May 1948/ 5 Iyar 5707
On 13 May 1948, 350 invitations were issued by the Jewish People's Council for the approval of Israel's Declaration of Independence on the following day at 4pm. The meeting was to take place at the Tel Aviv Museum, 16 Rothschild Boulevard. All guests were asked to keep the time and location of the meeting confidential.
Israel declared independence on 14 May 1948, the 5th of Iyar in the Hebrew calendar, the day before the British Mandate for Palestine was due to expire. Although the United States immediately granted de facto recognition, the USSR became the first country to recognise Israel as a legal entity on 17 May.
Precisely a month after Israel's declaration of independence, on 14 June 1948, William McAdam, MP for Salford North, asked if the Foreign Secretary had considered the resolution on recognition of Israel from the Council of Manchester and Salford Jews. Under-Secretary of State Christopher Mayhew replied only that the resolution "was carefully considered". This prompted Squadron Leader Edward Fleming, MP for Manchester Withington, to ask sarcastically "whether the Government are determined to be the last sovereign State to recognise the State of Israel?"
Both the then Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin (below left) and Christopher Mayhew are controversial figures in relation to Israel and the Jewish people. In May 1948, Mayhew recorded in his diary, "There is no doubt in my mind that Ernest detests Jews." Meanwhile Mayhew himself has been accused of being "virulently anti-Israel" and that his creation of the Labour Middle East Council in 1969 played a major role in fostering anti-Israel sentiments and activities in the Labour Party, which included comparing Zionism to South African apartheid and comparing Jews to Nazis.
Meanwhile, the UK did not recognise Israel de jure until 27 April 1950, when it was announced by Bevin's then deputy Kenneth Younger in a statement to the House of Commons: by contrast, in the same statement, Mr Younger announced the Government's recognition of Jordan's formal annexation of the West Bank just three days after it had been announced by the Jordanian Assembly. Pakistan was the only other country to do so. Even then, the recognition of Israel was by no means universally popular. Major Harry Legge-Bourke, MP for the Isle of Ely, and whose granddaughter Tiggy would later be nanny to Princes William and Harry retorted that, "I consider the de jure recognition of Israel to be the most hideous betrayal of all those men who fought in Palestine in the past." Legge-Bourke believed that Jews "should never have been allowed to settle in Palestine."
A sign of how much the world has changed is that on 14 March 1950, Iran became the first Muslim-majority country to recognise Israel de facto, increasing it to de jure status in 1960.
TEXT OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
ERETZ-ISRAEL [(Hebrew) - the Land of Israel, Palestine] was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.
After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.
Impelled by this historic and traditional attachment, Jews strove in every successive generation to re-establish themselves in their ancient homeland. In recent decades they returned in their masses. Pioneers, ma'pilim [(Hebrew) - immigrants coming to Eretz-Israel in defiance of restrictive legislation] and defenders, they made deserts bloom, revived the Hebrew language, built villages and towns, and created a thriving community controlling its own economy and culture, loving peace but knowing how to defend itself, bringing the blessings of progress to all the country's inhabitants, and aspiring towards independent nationhood.
In the year 5657 (1897), at the summons of the spiritual father of the Jewish State, Theodore Herzl, the First Zionist Congress convened and proclaimed the right of the Jewish people to national rebirth in its own country.
This right was recognized in the Balfour Declaration of the 2nd November, 1917, and re-affirmed in the Mandate of the League of Nations which, in particular, gave international sanction to the historic connection between the Jewish people and Eretz-Israel and to the right of the Jewish people to rebuild its National Home.
The catastrophe which recently befell the Jewish people - the massacre of millions of Jews in Europe - was another clear demonstration of the urgency of solving the problem of its homelessness by re-establishing in Eretz-Israel the Jewish State, which would open the gates of the homeland wide to every Jew and confer upon the Jewish people the status of a fully privileged member of the comity of nations.
Survivors of the Nazi holocaust in Europe, as well as Jews from other parts of the world, continued to migrate to Eretz-Israel, undaunted by difficulties, restrictions and dangers, and never ceased to assert their right to a life of dignity, freedom and honest toil in their national homeland.
In the Second World War, the Jewish community of this country contributed its full share to the struggle of the freedom- and peace-loving nations against the forces of Nazi wickedness and, by the blood of its soldiers and its war effort, gained the right to be reckoned among the peoples who founded the United Nations.
On the 29th November, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz-Israel; the General Assembly required the inhabitants of Eretz-Israel to take such steps as were necessary on their part for the implementation of that resolution. This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their State is irrevocable.
This right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State.
ACCORDINGLY WE, MEMBERS OF THE PEOPLE'S COUNCIL, REPRESENTATIVES OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF ERETZ-ISRAEL AND OF THE ZIONIST MOVEMENT, ARE HERE ASSEMBLED ON THE DAY OF THE TERMINATION OF THE BRITISH MANDATE OVER ERETZ-ISRAEL AND, BY VIRTUE OF OUR NATURAL AND HISTORIC RIGHT AND ON THE STRENGTH OF THE RESOLUTION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, HEREBY DECLARE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A JEWISH STATE IN ERETZ-ISRAEL, TO BE KNOWN AS THE STATE OF ISRAEL.
WE DECLARE that, with effect from the moment of the termination of the Mandate being tonight, the eve of Sabbath, the 6th Iyar, 5708 (15th May, 1948), until the establishment of the elected, regular authorities of the State in accordance with the Constitution which shall be adopted by the Elected Constituent Assembly not later than the 1st October 1948, the People's Council shall act as a Provisional Council of State, and its executive organ, the People's Administration, shall be the Provisional Government of the Jewish State, to be called "Israel".
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
THE STATE OF ISRAEL is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the economic union of the whole of Eretz-Israel.
WE APPEAL to the United Nations to assist the Jewish people in the building-up of its State and to receive the State of Israel into the comity of nations.
WE APPEAL - in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months - to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.
WE EXTEND our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.
WE APPEAL to the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora to rally round the Jews of Eretz-Israel in the tasks of immigration and upbuilding and to stand by them in the great struggle for the realization of the age-old dream - the redemption of Israel.
PLACING OUR TRUST IN THE "ROCK OF ISRAEL", WE AFFIX OUR SIGNATURES TO THIS PROCLAMATION AT THIS SESSION OF THE PROVISIONAL COUNCIL OF STATE, ON THE SOIL OF THE HOMELAND, IN THE CITY OF TEL-AVIV, ON THIS SABBATH EVE, THE 5TH DAY OF IYAR, 5708 (14TH MAY,1948).
David Ben-Gurion (Israel's first Prime Minister)
Daniel Auster (first Jewish Mayor of Jerusalem)
Mordekhai Bentov (Member of the Knesse.t 1949-1965)
Yitzchak Ben Zvi (President of Israel 1952-1963)
Eliyahu Berligne (Treasurer of Jewish National Council)
Fritz Bernstein (Minister of Trade & Industry 1948-1949 and 1952-1955)
Rabbi Wolf Gold (Vice President of Provisional State Council)
Meir Grabovsky (Member of the Knesset 1949-1963)
Yitzchak Gruenbaum (Minister of Internal Affairs 1948-1949)
Dr. Abraham Granovsky (Member of the Knesset 1949-1951)
Eliyahu Dobkin (Founder of the Israel Museum)
Meir Wilner-Kovner (Leader of Israeli Communist Party 1965-1988)
Zerach Wahrhaftig (Minister of Religions 1961-1974)
Herzl Vardi (Editor of Yedioth Ahronoth 1949-1986)
Rachel Cohen (Member of the Knesset 1949-1951 and 1961-1965)
Rabbi Kalman Kahana (Member of the Knesset 1949-1981)
Saadia Kobashi (Yemenite Member of Provisional State Council)
Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Levin (Minister of Welfare 1948-1952)
Meir David Loewenstein (Member of the Knesset 1949-1951)
Zvi Luria (Member of Provisional State Council)
Golda Myerson (Prime Minister 1969-1974)
Nachum Nir (Member of the Knesset 1949-1951 and 1955-1965)
Zvi Segal (Member of Provisional State Council)
Rabbi Yehuda Leib Hacohen Fishman (Minister of Religions and Minister of War Victims 1948-1951)
David Zvi Pinkas (Minister of Transport 1951-1952)
Aharon Zisling (Minister of Agriculture 1948-1949)
Moshe Kolodny (Minister of Development 1966-1969 and Minister of Tourism 1966-1977)
Eliezer Kaplan (Minister of Finance 1948-1952; Minister of Trade & Industry 1949-1950; Deputy Prime Minister 1952)
Abraham Katznelson (Member of Provisional State Council)
Felix Rosenblueth (Minister of Justice 1948-1951 and 1952-1961)
David Remez (Minister of Transportation 1948-1950 and Minister of Education 1950-1951)
Berl Repetur (Member of the Knesset 1949-1951)
Mordekhai Shattner (Member of Provisional State Council)
Zion Sternberg (Member of Provisional State Council)
Bekhor Shitreet (Minister of Police 1948-1967 and Minister of Minority Affairs 1948-1949)
Moshe Shapira (Minister of Health 1948-1951 and 1961-1966; Minister for Immigration 1948-1951; Minister of Internal Affairs (1949-1952; 1955 and 1959-1970); Minister of Religions 1948; Minister of Welfare 1952-1958)
Moshe Shertok (Prime Minister 1954-1955)