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Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel

Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel

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Encyclopedia
The Israeli Declaration of Independence , made on 14 May 1948 (5 Iyar
Iyar
Iyar is the eighth month of the civil year and the second month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar. The name is Babylonian in origin. It is a spring month of 29 days. Iyar usually falls in April–June on the Gregorian calendar.In the Hebrew Bible, before the Babylonian Exile, the...

 5708), the day before the British Mandate was due to expire, was the announcement by David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion
' was the first Prime Minister of Israel.Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946...

, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization
World Zionist Organization
The World Zionist Organization , or WZO, was founded as the Zionist Organization , or ZO, in 1897 at the First Zionist Congress, held from August 29 to August 31 in Basel, Switzerland...

 and chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, that the new Jewish state named the State of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 had been formally established in parts of what was known as the British Mandate of Palestine and on land where, in antiquity, the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

 had once been.

The event is celebrated annually in Israel with a national holiday
National Day
The National Day is a designated date on which celebrations mark the nationhood of a nation or non-sovereign country. This nationhood can be symbolized by the date of independence, of becoming republic or a significant date for a patron saint or a ruler . Often the day is not called "National Day"...

 called Yom Ha'atzmaut
Yom Ha'atzmaut
Yom Ha'atzmaut commemorates Israel's declaration of Independence in 1948. It is celebrated on 5 Iyar according to the Hebrew calendar. Yom Ha'atzmaut is preceded by Yom Hazikaron, the Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day.-History:...

  on 5 Iyar
Iyar
Iyar is the eighth month of the civil year and the second month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar. The name is Babylonian in origin. It is a spring month of 29 days. Iyar usually falls in April–June on the Gregorian calendar.In the Hebrew Bible, before the Babylonian Exile, the...

 of every year according to the Hebrew calendar
Hebrew calendar
The Hebrew calendar , or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits , and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses...

.

Background


While the possibility of a Jewish homeland in Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 had been a goal of Zionist
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 organizations since the late 19th century, it is not mentioned in the historical record of the region until the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which the British Foreign Secretary stated:

His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.


With the end of World War I, Britain was given a mandate
League of Nations mandate
A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that contained the internationally agreed-upon terms for administering the territory on behalf of the League...

 over the area known as Palestine, which it had conquered from the Ottomans
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. In 1936 the Peel Commission
Peel Commission
The Peel Commission of 1936-1937, formally known as the Palestine Royal Commission, was a British Royal Commission of Inquiry set out to propose changes to the British Mandate of Palestine following the outbreak of the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine...

 suggested partitioning Mandate Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state, though it was rejected as unworkable by the government and was at least partially to blame for the 1936–39 Arab revolt.


In the face of increasing violence after World War II, the British handed the issue over to the United Nations. The result was Resolution 181, a partition plan to divide Palestine between Jews and Arabs. The Jewish state was to receive around 56% of the land area of Mandate Palestine, encompassing 82% of the Jewish population, though it would be separated from Jerusalem, designated as an area to be administered by the UN. The plan was accepted by most of the Jewish population, but rejected by much of the Arab populace. On 29 November 1947, the plan was put to a vote in the United Nations General Assembly. The result was 33 to 13 in favour of the plan, with 10 abstentions. The Arab countries (all of which had opposed the plan) proposed to query the International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

 on the competence of the General Assembly to partition a country against the wishes of the majority of its inhabitants, but were again defeated. The division was to take effect as part of a British withdrawal from the territory (to be no later than 1 August 1948), though the UK refused to implement the plan, arguing it was unacceptable to both sides.

United Nations stipulations


The UN resolution on "The Future Government of Palestine" contained both a plan of partition and a Minority Protection Plan
Minority Treaties
Minority Treaties refer to the treaties, League of Nations Mandates, and unilateral declarations made by countries applying for membership in the League of Nations and United Nations...

. It placed minority, women's, and religious rights under the protection of the United Nations and the International Court of Justice. The plan provided specific guarantees of fundamental human rights. The new states had to acknowledge the stipulated rights in a Declaration, which according to precedent was tantamount to a treaty. The resolution stated that "the stipulations contained in the declarations are recognized as fundamental laws of State, and no law, regulation or official action shall conflict or interfere with these stipulations, nor shall any law, regulation or official action prevail over them." The resolution also proposed that the Constitution of each State embody the rights contained in the Declaration.

In the hearings before the Ad Hoc Political Committee that considered Israel's application for membership in the United Nations, Abba Eban said that the rights stipulated in section C. Declaration, chapters 1 and 2 of UN resolution 181(II) had been alluded to in the fundamental law of the state of Israel as proposed by the resolution. The instruments that he cited were the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, and various cables and letters of confirmation addressed to the Secretary General. Mr. Eban's explanations and Israel's undertakings were noted in the text of General Assembly Resolution 273 (III) Admission of Israel to membership in the United Nations, 11 May 1949.

Drafting the text


The first draft of the declaration was made by Zvi Berenson, the Histadrut
Histadrut
HaHistadrut HaKlalit shel HaOvdim B'Eretz Yisrael , known as the Histadrut, is Israel's organization of trade unions. Established in December 1920 during the British Mandate for Palestine, it became one of the most powerful institutions of the State of Israel.-History:The Histadrut was founded in...

 trade union's legal advisor and later a justice of the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of Israel
The Supreme Court is at the head of the court system and highest judicial instance in Israel. The Supreme Court sits in Jerusalem.The area of its jurisdiction is all of Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. A ruling of the Supreme Court is binding upon every court, other than the Supreme...

, at the request of Pinchas Rosen
Pinchas Rosen
Pinchas Rosen was an Israeli politician and statesman, and the country's first Minister of Justice, serving three times during 1948-51, 1952–56, and 1958-61. He was also leader of the Independent Liberals during the 1960s.-Biography:...

. A revised second draft was made by three lawyers, A. Beham, A. Hintzheimer and Z.E. Baker, and was framed by a committee including David Remez
David Remez
David Remez was an Israeli politician, the country's first Minister of Transportation, and a signatory of the Israeli declaration of independence.-Biography:...

, Pinchas Rosen
Pinchas Rosen
Pinchas Rosen was an Israeli politician and statesman, and the country's first Minister of Justice, serving three times during 1948-51, 1952–56, and 1958-61. He was also leader of the Independent Liberals during the 1960s.-Biography:...

, Haim-Moshe Shapira
Haim-Moshe Shapira
Haim-Moshe Shapira was a key Israeli politician in the early days of the state's existence. A signatory of Israel's declaration of independence, he served continuously as a minister from the country's foundation in 1948 until his death in 1970 apart from a brief spell in the late...

, Moshe Sharett
Moshe Sharett
Moshe Sharett on 15 October 1894, died 7 July 1965) was the second Prime Minister of Israel , serving for a little under two years between David Ben-Gurion's two terms.-Early life:...

 and Aharon Zisling
Aharon Zisling
Aharon Zisling was an Israeli politician and minister and a signatory of Israel's declaration of independence.-Biography:Born in Minsk in the Russian Empire , Zisling emigrated to Palestine in 1904...

. A second committee meeting which included David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion
' was the first Prime Minister of Israel.Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946...

, Yehuda Leib Maimon
Yehuda Leib Maimon
Yehuda Leib Maimon was an Israeli rabbi, politician and leader of the religious Zionism movement, originating from Bessarabia.-Biography:Born in 1875 in Mărculeşti, Bessarabia , Maimon studied in a number of yeshivot and received rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein, the author of...

, Sharett and Zisling produced the final text.

Minhelet HaAm Vote


On 12 May 1948, the Minhelet HaAm  was convened to vote on declaring independence. Three of the members were missing; Yehuda Leib Maimon
Yehuda Leib Maimon
Yehuda Leib Maimon was an Israeli rabbi, politician and leader of the religious Zionism movement, originating from Bessarabia.-Biography:Born in 1875 in Mărculeşti, Bessarabia , Maimon studied in a number of yeshivot and received rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein, the author of...

 and Yitzhak Gruenbaum
Yitzhak Gruenbaum
Yitzhak Gruenbaum was a noted leader of the Zionist movement among Polish Jewry between the two world wars and of the Yishuv in Mandatory Palestine, and the first Interior Minister of Israel.-Education and journalistic career:Gruenbaum was born in Warsaw, Poland...

 were detained in besieged
Siege of Jerusalem (1948)
The Battle for Jerusalem occurred from 30 November 1947 to 11 June 1948 when Jewish and Arab population of Mandatory Palestine and later Israeli and Jordanian armies fought for the control of the city....

 Jerusalem, whilst Yitzhak-Meir Levin
Yitzhak-Meir Levin
Rabbi Yitzhak-Meir Levin was an Haredi politician. He had political roles in Poland and Israel. One of 37 people to sign the Israeli declaration of independence, he served in several Israeli cabinets, and was a longtime leader and Knesset minster for Agudath Israel and related...

 was in the United States.

The meeting started at 1:45 and ended after midnight. The decision was between accepting the American proposal for a truce, or declaring independence. The latter option was put to a vote, with six of the ten members present supporting it:
  • For: David Ben-Gurion
    David Ben-Gurion
    ' was the first Prime Minister of Israel.Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946...

    , Moshe Sharett
    Moshe Sharett
    Moshe Sharett on 15 October 1894, died 7 July 1965) was the second Prime Minister of Israel , serving for a little under two years between David Ben-Gurion's two terms.-Early life:...

     (Mapai
    Mapai
    Mapai was a left-wing political party in Israel, and was the dominant force in Israeli politics until its merger into the Israeli Labor Party in 1968...

    ), Peretz Bernstein
    Peretz Bernstein
    Peretz Bernstein was a Zionist activist and Israeli politician and one of the signatories of the Israeli declaration of independence.-Biography:...

     (General Zionists
    General Zionists
    The General Zionists were centrists within the Zionist movement and a political party in Israel. Their political arm is an ancestor of the modern-day Likud.-History:...

    ), Haim-Moshe Shapira
    Haim-Moshe Shapira
    Haim-Moshe Shapira was a key Israeli politician in the early days of the state's existence. A signatory of Israel's declaration of independence, he served continuously as a minister from the country's foundation in 1948 until his death in 1970 apart from a brief spell in the late...

     (Hapoel HaMizrachi
    Hapoel HaMizrachi
    Hapoel HaMizrachi |Mizrachi]] Workers) was a political party and settlement movement in Israel and is one of the predecessors of the National Religious Party.-History:...

    ), Mordechai Bentov
    Mordechai Bentov
    Mordechai Bentov was an Israeli journalist and politician, and was one of the signatories of the Israeli declaration of independence.-Biography:...

    , Aharon Zisling
    Aharon Zisling
    Aharon Zisling was an Israeli politician and minister and a signatory of Israel's declaration of independence.-Biography:Born in Minsk in the Russian Empire , Zisling emigrated to Palestine in 1904...

     (Mapam
    Mapam
    Mapam was a political party in Israel and is one of the ancestors of the modern-day Meretz party.-History:Mapam was formed by a January 1948 merger of the Hashomer Hatzair Workers Party and Ahdut HaAvoda Poale Zion Movement. The party was originally Marxist-Zionist in its outlook and represented...

    ).
  • Against: Eliezer Kaplan
    Eliezer Kaplan
    Eliezer Kaplan was a Zionist activist, Israeli politician, one of the signatories of the Israeli declaration of independence and the country's first Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister.-Biography:...

    , David Remez
    David Remez
    David Remez was an Israeli politician, the country's first Minister of Transportation, and a signatory of the Israeli declaration of independence.-Biography:...

     (Mapai), Pinchas Rosen
    Pinchas Rosen
    Pinchas Rosen was an Israeli politician and statesman, and the country's first Minister of Justice, serving three times during 1948-51, 1952–56, and 1958-61. He was also leader of the Independent Liberals during the 1960s.-Biography:...

     (New Aliyah Party
    New Aliyah Party
    The New Aliyah Party was a political party in Mandate Palestine and Israel.The party was established in 1942 by immigrants from Austria and Germany who had arrived in Palestine during the Fifth Aliyah. In the fourth Assembly of Representatives formed in 1944, the party had 18 seats , making it the...

    ), Bechor-Shalom Sheetrit
    Bechor-Shalom Sheetrit
    Bechor-Shalom Sheetrit was an Israeli politician, minister and the only signatory of the Israeli declaration of independence to have been born in the country...

     (Sephardim and Oriental Communities
    Sephardim and Oriental Communities
    Sephardim and Oriental Communities was a political party in Israel and is one of the ancestors of the modern-day Likud party.-History:The Sephardim and Oriental Communities party represented Sephardi Jews and Mizrahi Jews who were already living in Israel at the time of independence, and was part...

    ).


Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Azriel Weizmann, , was a Zionist leader, President of the Zionist Organization, and the first President of the State of Israel. He was elected on 1 February 1949, and served until his death in 1952....

, chairman of the World Zionist Organization
World Zionist Organization
The World Zionist Organization , or WZO, was founded as the Zionist Organization , or ZO, in 1897 at the First Zionist Congress, held from August 29 to August 31 in Basel, Switzerland...

 and soon to be the first President of Israel
President of Israel
The President of the State of Israel is the head of state of Israel. The position is largely an apolitical ceremonial figurehead role, with the real executive power lying in the hands of the Prime Minister. The current president is Shimon Peres who took office on 15 July 2007...

, endorsed the decision, after reportedly asking "What are they waiting for, the idiots?"

Final wording


The draft text was submitted for approval to a meeting of Moetzet HaAm
Provisional State Council
The Provisional State Council was the temporary legislature of Israel from shortly before independence until the election of the first Knesset in January 1949...

  at the JNF
Jewish National Fund
The Jewish National Fund was founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in Ottoman Palestine for Jewish settlement. The JNF is a quasi-governmental, non-profit organisation...

 building in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

 on 14 May. The meeting started at 1:50 and ended at 15:00, an hour before the declaration was due to be made, and despite ongoing disagreements, with a unanimous vote in favour of the final text.

During the process, there were two major debates, centering around the issues of borders and religion. On the border issue, the original draft had declared that the borders would be that decided by the UN partition plan. While this was supported by Rosen and Bechor-Shalom Sheetrit
Bechor-Shalom Sheetrit
Bechor-Shalom Sheetrit was an Israeli politician, minister and the only signatory of the Israeli declaration of independence to have been born in the country...

, it was opposed by Ben-Gurion and Zisling, with Ben-Gurion stating, "We accepted the UN Resolution, but the Arabs did not. They are preparing to make war on us. If we defeat them and capture western Galilee or territory on both sides of the road to Jerusalem, these areas will become part of the state. Why should we obligate ourselves to accept boundaries that in any case the Arabs don't accept?" The inclusion of the designation of borders in the text was dropped after the provisional government of Israel, the Minhelet HaAm
Provisional government of Israel
The provisional government of Israel was the temporary cabinet which governed Israel from shortly before independence until the formation of the first government in March 1949 following the first Knesset elections in January that year....

, voted 5–4 against it. The Revisionists
Revisionist Zionism
Revisionist Zionism is a nationalist faction within the Zionist movement. It is the founding ideology of the non-religious right in Israel, and was the chief ideological competitor to the dominant socialist Labor Zionism...

, committed to a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan River (that is, including Transjordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

), wanted the phrase "within its historic borders" included but were unsuccessful.

The second major issue was over the inclusion of God in the last section of the document, with the draft using the phrase "and placing our trust in the Almighty". The two rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

s, Shapira and Yehuda Leib Maimon
Yehuda Leib Maimon
Yehuda Leib Maimon was an Israeli rabbi, politician and leader of the religious Zionism movement, originating from Bessarabia.-Biography:Born in 1875 in Mărculeşti, Bessarabia , Maimon studied in a number of yeshivot and received rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein, the author of...

, argued for its inclusion, saying that it could not be omitted, with Shapira supporting the wording "God of Israel" or "the Almighty and Redeemer of Israel." It was strongly opposed by Zisling, a member of the secularist Mapam
Mapam
Mapam was a political party in Israel and is one of the ancestors of the modern-day Meretz party.-History:Mapam was formed by a January 1948 merger of the Hashomer Hatzair Workers Party and Ahdut HaAvoda Poale Zion Movement. The party was originally Marxist-Zionist in its outlook and represented...

. In the end the phrase "Rock of Israel
Rock of Israel
The Rock of Israel is a concept in Judaism that alludes to God, and in Zionism and politics, to the cultural and historical heritage of the Jewish people and the foundation of the State of Israel...

" was used, which could be interpreted as either referring to God, or the land of Eretz Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

, Ben-Gurion saying "Each of us, in his own way, believes in the 'Rock of Israel' as he conceives it. I should like to make one request: Don't let me put this phrase to a vote." Although its use was still opposed by Zisling, the phrase was accepted without a vote.

At the meeting on 14 May, several other members of Moetzet HaAm suggested additions to the document. Meir Vilner
Meir Vilner
Meir Vilner was an Israeli communist politician and Jewish leader of the Communist Party of Israel , which consisted primarily of Israeli Arabs...

 wanted it to denounce the British Mandate and military but Sharett said it was out of place. Meir Argov
Meir Argov
Meir Argov was a Zionist activist, Israeli politician and a signatory of the Israeli declaration of independence.-Biography:Born in Rîbniţa in the Russian Empire , Argov studied at a heder and then at Kiev University...

 pushed to mention the Displaced Persons camp
Displaced persons camp
A displaced persons camp or DP camp is a temporary facility for displaced persons coerced into forced migration. The term is mainly used for camps established after World War II in West Germany and in Austria, as well as in the United Kingdom, primarily for refugees from Eastern Europe and for the...

s in Europe and to guarantee freedom of language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

. Ben-Gurion agreed with the latter but noted that Hebrew should be the main language of the state.

The writers also had to decide on the name for the new state. Eretz Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

, Ever (from the name Eber
Eber
Eber is an ancestor of the Israelites, according to the "Table of Nations" in and . He was a great-grandson of Noah's son Shem and the father of Peleg born when Eber was 34 years old, and of Joktan. He was the son of Shelah a distant ancestor of Abraham...

), Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

, and Zion
Zion
Zion is a place name often used as a synonym for Jerusalem. The word is first found in Samuel II, 5:7 dating to c.630-540 BCE...

 were all suggested, as were Ziona, Ivriya and Herzliya. Judea and Zion were rejected because, according to the partition plan, Jerusalem (Zion) and most of Judean mountains would be outside the new state. Ben-Gurion put forward "Israel" and it passed by a vote of 6–3.

The debate over wording did not end completely even after the Declaration had been made. Declaration signer Meir David Loewenstein
Meir David Loewenstein
Meir David Loewenstein was an Israeli politician and one of the signatories of the Israeli declaration of independence.-Biography:Born in Copenhagen in Denmark in 1904, Loewenstein studied at a business school in Switzerland and a rabbinical seminary in Amsterdam...

 later claimed that "It ignored our sole right to Eretz Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

, which is based on the covenant of the Lord with Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

, our father, and repeated promises in the Tanach
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

. It ignored the aliya of the Ramban
Nahmanides
Nahmanides, also known as Rabbi Moses ben Naḥman Girondi, Bonastruc ça Porta and by his acronym Ramban, , was a leading medieval Jewish scholar, Catalan rabbi, philosopher, physician, kabbalist, and biblical commentator.-Name:"Nahmanides" is a Greek-influenced formation meaning "son of Naḥman"...

 and the students of the Vilna Gaon
Vilna Gaon
Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman Kramer, known as the Vilna Gaon or Elijah of Vilna and simply by his Hebrew acronym Gra or Elijah Ben Solomon, , was a Talmudist, halachist, kabbalist, and the foremost leader of non-hasidic Jewry of the past few centuries...

 and the Ba'al Shem Tov, and the [rights of] Jews who lived in the 'Old Yishuv'."

Declaration ceremony




The ceremony to declare independence was held in the Tel Aviv Museum (today known as Independence Hall) but was not widely publicised as it was feared that the British Authorities might attempt to prevent it or that the Arab armies might invade earlier than expected. An invitation was sent out by messenger on the morning of 14 May telling recipients to arrive at 15:30 and to keep the event a secret. The event started at 16:00 (a time chosen so as not to breach the sabbath
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

) and was broadcasted live as the first transmission of the new radio station Kol Yisrael
Kol Yisrael
Kol Yisrael is Israel's public domestic and international radio service, operated as a division of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.-History:...

.

The final draft of the declaration was typed at the Jewish National Fund
Jewish National Fund
The Jewish National Fund was founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in Ottoman Palestine for Jewish settlement. The JNF is a quasi-governmental, non-profit organisation...

 building following its approval earlier in the day. Ze'ev Sherf
Ze'ev Sherf
Ze'ev Sherf was an Israeli politician who held several ministerial portfolios in the 1960s and 1970s.- Biography :Born in Czernowitz in Austria-Hungary , Sherf made aliyah in 1925...

, who stayed at the building in order to deliver the text, had forgotten to arrange transport for himself. Ultimately, he had to flag down a passing car and ask the driver (who was driving a borrowed car without a license) to take him to the ceremony. Sherf's request was initially refused but he managed to persuade the driver to take him. The car was stopped by a policeman for speeding while driving across the city though a ticket was not issued after it was explained that he was delaying the declaration of independence. Sherf arrived at the museum at 15:59.

At 16:00, Ben-Gurion opened the ceremony by banging his gavel
Gavel
A gavel is a small ceremonial mallet commonly made of hardwood, typically fashioned with a handle and often struck against a sound block to enhance its sounding qualities. It is a symbol of the authority and right to act officially in the capacity of a chair or presiding officer. It is used to call...

 on the table, prompting a spontaneous rendition of Hatikvah
Hatikvah
"Hatikvah" is the national anthem of Israel. The anthem was written by Naphtali Herz Imber, a secular Galician Jew from Zolochiv , who moved to the Land of Israel in the early 1880s....

, soon to be Israel's national anthem
National anthem
A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.- History :Anthems rose to prominence...

, from the 250 guests. On the wall behind the podium hung a picture of Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl , born Benjamin Ze’ev Herzl was an Ashkenazi Jew Austro-Hungarian journalist and the father of modern political Zionism and in effect the State of Israel.-Early life:...

, the founder of modern Zionism, and two flags, later to become the official flag of Israel
Flag of Israel
The flag of Israel was adopted on October 28, 1948, five months after the country's establishment. It depicts a blue Star of David on a white background, between two horizontal blue stripes...

.

After telling the audience "I shall now read to you the scroll of the Establishment of the State, which has passed its first reading by the National Council", Ben-Gurion proceeded to read out the declaration, taking 16 minutes, ending with the words "Let us accept the Foundation Scroll of the Jewish State by rising" and calling on Rabbi Fishman
Yehuda Leib Maimon
Yehuda Leib Maimon was an Israeli rabbi, politician and leader of the religious Zionism movement, originating from Bessarabia.-Biography:Born in 1875 in Mărculeşti, Bessarabia , Maimon studied in a number of yeshivot and received rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein, the author of...

 to recite the Shehecheyanu
Shehecheyanu
The Shehecheyanu blessing is a common Jewish prayer said to celebrate special occasions. It is said to be thankful for new and unusual experiences. The blessing has been recited by Jews for nearly 2000 years...

 blessing.

The entire declaration ceremony was recorded
The Recording of the Israel Declaration of Independence
The Recording of the Israel Declaration of Independence was a complete recording of the declaration using a direct to disc recording technique on acetate discs using special cutting machines. Neither the original records nor their duplicates were demanded by Israel state authorities and to date...

 and broadcasted live on Kol Yisrael
Kol Yisrael
Kol Yisrael is Israel's public domestic and international radio service, operated as a division of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.-History:...

 (Voice of Israel) radio station.

Signatories



As leader of the Yishuv
Yishuv
The Yishuv or Ha-Yishuv is the term referring to the body of Jewish residents in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel...

, David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion
' was the first Prime Minister of Israel.Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946...

 was the first person to sign. The declaration was due to be signed by all 37 members of Moetzet HaAm. However, twelve members could not attend, eleven of them trapped in besieged
Siege of Jerusalem (1948)
The Battle for Jerusalem occurred from 30 November 1947 to 11 June 1948 when Jewish and Arab population of Mandatory Palestine and later Israeli and Jordanian armies fought for the control of the city....

 Jerusalem and one abroad. The remaining 25 signatories present were called up in alphabetical order to sign, leaving spaces for those absent. Although a space was left for him between the signatures of Eliyahu Dobkin
Eliyahu Dobkin
Eliyahu Dobkin was a leading figure of the Labor Zionism movement, a signatory of the Israeli declaration of independence and a founder of the Israel Museum. He was also heavily involved with the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organisation.-Biography:...

 and Meir Vilner
Meir Vilner
Meir Vilner was an Israeli communist politician and Jewish leader of the Communist Party of Israel , which consisted primarily of Israeli Arabs...

, Zerach Warhaftig
Zerach Warhaftig
Rabbi Dr. Zerach Warhaftig was an Israeli lawyer and politician and a signatory of Israel's Declaration of Independence.-Background:Warhaftig was born in Volkovysk in the Russian Empire in 1906. His parents were Yerucham Warhaftig and Rivka Fainstein...

 signed at the top of the next column, leading to speculation that Vilner's name had been left alone to isolate him, or to stress that even a communist agreed with the declaration.

When Herzl Rosenblum
Herzl Rosenblum
Dr Herzl Rosenblum was an Israeli journalist and politician. A signatory of the Israeli declaration of independence, he worked as editor of Yedioth Ahronoth for more than 35 years.-Biography:...

, a journalist, was called up to sign, Ben-Gurion instructed him to sign under the name Herzl Vardi, his pen name, as he wanted more Hebrew names on the document. Although Rosenblum acquiesced to Ben-Gurion's request and legally changed his name to Vardi, he later admitted to regretting not signing as Rosenblum. Several other signatories later Hebraised their names, including Meir Argov
Meir Argov
Meir Argov was a Zionist activist, Israeli politician and a signatory of the Israeli declaration of independence.-Biography:Born in Rîbniţa in the Russian Empire , Argov studied at a heder and then at Kiev University...

 (Grabovsky), Peretz Bernstein
Peretz Bernstein
Peretz Bernstein was a Zionist activist and Israeli politician and one of the signatories of the Israeli declaration of independence.-Biography:...

 (then Fritz Bernstein), Avraham Granot
Avraham Granot
Avraham Granot was a Zionist activist, Israeli politician and a signatory of the Israeli declaration of independence.-Biography:Granot was born in Făleşti, Bessarabia in the Russian Empire . He attended Gymnasia Herzliya in Tel Aviv...

 (Granovsky), Avraham Nissan
Avraham Katznelson
Dr Avraham Katznelson was a Zionist political figure in Mandate Palestine and a signatory of the Israeli declaration of independence.-Biography:Katznelson was born in 1888 in Babruysk in the Russian Empire, now in Belarus...

 (Katznelson), Moshe Kol
Moshe Kol
Moshe Kol was a Zionist activist and Israeli politician and one of the signatories of the Israeli declaration of independence.-Biography:Born in Pinsk in the Russian Empire , Kol studied at a heder and Hebrew high school in his home town, and was one of the founders of HaOved HaTzioni youth...

 (Kolodny), Yehuda Leib Maimon
Yehuda Leib Maimon
Yehuda Leib Maimon was an Israeli rabbi, politician and leader of the religious Zionism movement, originating from Bessarabia.-Biography:Born in 1875 in Mărculeşti, Bessarabia , Maimon studied in a number of yeshivot and received rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein, the author of...

 (Fishman), Golda Meir
Golda Meir
Golda Meir ; May 3, 1898 – December 8, 1978) was a teacher, kibbutznik and politician who became the fourth Prime Minister of the State of Israel....

 (Myerson), Pinchas Rosen
Pinchas Rosen
Pinchas Rosen was an Israeli politician and statesman, and the country's first Minister of Justice, serving three times during 1948-51, 1952–56, and 1958-61. He was also leader of the Independent Liberals during the 1960s.-Biography:...

 (Felix Rosenblueth) and Moshe Sharett
Moshe Sharett
Moshe Sharett on 15 October 1894, died 7 July 1965) was the second Prime Minister of Israel , serving for a little under two years between David Ben-Gurion's two terms.-Early life:...

 (Shertok). Other signatories added their own touches, including Saadia Kobashi
Saadia Kobashi
Saadia Kobashi was a leader of the Yemenite Jewish community in Israel, and one of the signatories of the country's declaration of independence.Born in Yemen, he immigrated to Ottoman Palestine in 1909, settling in Jerusalem....

 who added the phrase "HaLevy", referring to the tribe of Levi
Levi
Levi/Levy was, according to the Book of Genesis, the third son of Jacob and Leah, and the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Levi ; however Peake's commentary suggests this as postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite...

.

After Moshe Shertok
Moshe Sharett
Moshe Sharett on 15 October 1894, died 7 July 1965) was the second Prime Minister of Israel , serving for a little under two years between David Ben-Gurion's two terms.-Early life:...

, the last of the signatories, had put his name to paper, the audience again stood and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is the leading symphony orchestra in Israel. It was originally known as the Palestine Orchestra, and in Hebrew as התזמורת הסימפונית הארץ ישראלית The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (abbreviation IPO; Hebrew: התזמורת הפילהרמונית הישראלית, ha-Tizmoret ha-Filharmonit...

 played the "Hatikvah". Ben-Gurion concluded the event with the words "The State of Israel is established! This meeting is adjourned!"

Aftermath


Following the declaration, Moetzet HaAm became the Provisional State Council
Provisional State Council
The Provisional State Council was the temporary legislature of Israel from shortly before independence until the election of the first Knesset in January 1949...

, which acted as the legislative body for the new state until the first elections
Israeli legislative election, 1949
Elections for the Constituent Assembly were held in newly independent Israel on 25 January 1949. Voter turnout was 86.9%. Two days after its first meeting on 14 February 1949, legislators voted to change the name of the body to the Knesset...

 in January 1949.

Over the next few days the armies of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Trans-Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, Iraq, Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

, Sudan, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, and Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 invaded Israel, and officially and militarily threatened to occupy the whole of the former Mandate territory, thereby starting the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known in Israel as the War of Independence . A truce began on 11 June, but fighting resumed on 8 July and stopped again on 18 July, before restarting in mid-October and finally ending on 24 July 1949 with the signing of the armistice agreement
1949 Armistice Agreements
The 1949 Armistice Agreements are a set of agreements signed during 1949 between Israel and neighboring Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. The agreements ended the official hostilities of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and established armistice lines between Israeli forces and the forces in...

 with Syria. By then Israel had retained its independence and increased its land area by almost 50% compared to the 1947 UN Partition Plan.

Many of the signatories would play a prominent role in Israeli politics
Politics of Israel
The Israeli system of government is based on parliamentary democracy. The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of government and leader of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the Knesset. The Judiciary is independent of the executive...

 following independence; Moshe Sharett and Golda Meir both served as Prime Minister, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi was a historian, Labor Zionist leader, the second and longest-serving President of Israel.-Biography:...

 became
Israeli presidential election, 1952
An election to choose the second President of Israel was held in the Knesset on 8 December 1952 following the death of the Israel's first president, Chaim Weizmann on 9 November...

 the country's second president
President of Israel
The President of the State of Israel is the head of state of Israel. The position is largely an apolitical ceremonial figurehead role, with the real executive power lying in the hands of the Prime Minister. The current president is Shimon Peres who took office on 15 July 2007...

 in 1952, and several others served as ministers
Cabinet of Israel
The Cabinet of Israel is a formal body composed of government officials called ministers, chosen and led by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister must appoint members based on the distribution of votes to political parties during legislative elections, and its composition must be approved by a...

. David Remez
David Remez
David Remez was an Israeli politician, the country's first Minister of Transportation, and a signatory of the Israeli declaration of independence.-Biography:...

 was the first signatory to pass away, dying in May 1951, whilst Meir Vilner, the youngest signatory at just 29, was the longest living, serving in the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

 until 1990 and dying in June 2003. Eliyahu Berligne
Eliyahu Berligne
Eliyahu Berligne was a founder of Tel Aviv, an important member of the Yishuv in Mandate Palestine and a signatory of the Israeli declaration of independence.-Biography:...

, the oldest signatory at 82, died in 1959.

Eleven minutes after the declaration went into force, the United States de facto recognised
International recognition of Israel
The recognition of Israel in the international community remains an outstanding issue of the Arab–Israeli conflict. Pursuant to the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, which provided for the establishment of a Jewish state, Israel declared its independence at midnight on 14 May 1948...

 the State of Israel, followed by Shah
Pahlavi dynasty
The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi (reg. 1925–1941) and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty ...

 Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia , ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979...

's Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 (which had voted against the UN partition plan), Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

, Iceland, Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

, Romania
Communist Romania
Communist Romania was the period in Romanian history when that country was a Soviet-aligned communist state in the Eastern Bloc, with the dominant role of Romanian Communist Party enshrined in its successive constitutions...

, and Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

. The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 was the first nation to fully recognize Israel de jure
De jure
De jure is an expression that means "concerning law", as contrasted with de facto, which means "concerning fact".De jure = 'Legally', De facto = 'In fact'....

 on 17 May 1948, followed by Poland
People's Republic of Poland
The People's Republic of Poland was the official name of Poland from 1952 to 1990. Although the Soviet Union took control of the country immediately after the liberation from Nazi Germany in 1944, the name of the state was not changed until eight years later...

, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Yugoslav state that existed from the abolition of the Yugoslav monarchy until it was dissolved in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. It was a socialist state and a federation made up of six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia,...

, Ireland, and South Africa. The United States extended official recognition after the first Israeli election
Israeli legislative election, 1949
Elections for the Constituent Assembly were held in newly independent Israel on 25 January 1949. Voter turnout was 86.9%. Two days after its first meeting on 14 February 1949, legislators voted to change the name of the body to the Knesset...

, as Truman had promised, on 31 January 1949. Israel became a member of the United Nations on 11 May 1949.

Status in Israeli law



The declaration stated that the State of Israel would ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex, and guaranteed freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture. However, the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

 maintains that the declaration is neither a law nor an ordinary legal document. The Supreme Court
Supreme Court of Israel
The Supreme Court is at the head of the court system and highest judicial instance in Israel. The Supreme Court sits in Jerusalem.The area of its jurisdiction is all of Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. A ruling of the Supreme Court is binding upon every court, other than the Supreme...

 has ruled that the guarantees were merely guiding principles, and that the declaration is not a constitutional law making a practical ruling on the upholding or nullification of various ordinances and statutes. Whenever an explicit statutory measure of the Knesset leaves no room for doubt, it is honored even if inconsistent with the principles in the Declaration of Independence.

In 1994 the Knesset amended two basic laws
Basic Laws of Israel
The Basic Laws of Israel are a key component of Israel's constitutional law. These laws deal with the formation and role of the principal state's institutions, and the relations between the state's authorities. Some of them also protect civil rights...

, Human Dignity and Liberty and Freedom of Occupation, introducing (among other changes) a statement saying that "the fundamental human rights in Israel will be honored (...) in the spirit of the principles included in the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel".

The scroll



Although Ben-Gurion had told the audience that he was reading from the scroll of independence, he was actually reading from handwritten notes because only the bottom part of the scroll had been finished by artist and calligrapher Otte Wallish
Otte Wallish
Otte Wallish was an emigre to Israel who established himself as a graphic designer and contributed to the symbolic self-representation of the Jewish state....

 by the time of the declaration (he did not complete the entire document until June). The scroll, which is bound together in three parts, is generally kept in the country's National Archives, though it is currently on display at the Israel Museum
Israel Museum
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem was founded in 1965 as Israel's national museum. It is situated on a hill in the Givat Ram neighborhood of Jerusalem, near the Bible Lands Museum, the Knesset, the Israeli Supreme Court, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem....

.

Context and content


The document commences by drawing a direct line from Biblical
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 times to the present:
It acknowledges the Jewish exile over the millennia, mentioning both ancient "faith" and new "politics":
It speaks of the urge of Jews to return to their ancient homeland:
It describes Jewish immigrants to Israel
Aliyah
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel . It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology. The opposite action, emigration from Israel, is referred to as yerida . The return to the Holy Land has been a Jewish aspiration since the Babylonian exile...

 in the following terms:
The European Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

 of 1939–45 is part of the imperative for the re-settlement of the homeland:
On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

 passed a resolution recommending outlines for the 'Future Constitution and Government of Palestine'. It recommended the establishment of a provisional government for the Jewish State, which would be subject to certain constitutional requirements and guarantees. It recommended for the inhabitants of Israel to take such steps as were necessary on their part for the implementation of that constitutional form of government. On the issues of sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 and self-determination
Self-determination
Self-determination is the principle in international law that nations have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no external compulsion or external interference...

:
The new state pledged that it will take steps to bring about the economic union of the whole of Eretz Israel and appealed:
A final appeal is made to the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora to rally round the "Free Hebrew people in its land" in the tasks of immigration
Aliyah
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel . It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology. The opposite action, emigration from Israel, is referred to as yerida . The return to the Holy Land has been a Jewish aspiration since the Babylonian exile...

and upbuilding and to stand by them in the struggle for the realization of their age-old dream, the redemption of Israel. The Declaration is making a distinction between the "Hebrew" people in "the Land of Israel", and "the Jewish people" in the rest of the world.

It concludes with the phrase "MiToh Bitahon BeTzur Yisrael", roughly translated as "With faith in the God of Israel," or alternatively "From the strength of Israel." This double meaning ended the document in a manner satisfactory to both the religious and secular factions of the Yishuv.

External links