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Establishment of Israel:
Signatories to the Israeli Declaration of Independence

(May 14, 1948)


Establishment of Israel: Table of Contents | Background & Overview | Text of Declaration


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The 37 signatories to Israel's Declaration of Establishment were the members of the Provisional Council of State. They were the representatives of Israel's various communities and the leaders of the state-in-making.
The oldest signatory was 82; the youngest not yet 30. Three would later become prime ministers, one president and fourteen cabinet ministers.

David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973)

Secretary-General of the Histadrut (1921-35), chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive (1935-48) and first Prime Minister of Israel (1948-63, with a short break). He headed the yishuv in the pre-state years; laid the foundations for the workings of the government and the IDF; and led the country in its formative years.

Daniel Auster (1893-1962)

Lawyer and mayor of Jerusalem, 1948-51. He had been active in Jerusalem municipal affairs since 1934, under the British Mandatory administration, and represented the Jewish case against the internationalization of Jerusalem before the United Nations in 1947.

Mordechai Bentov (1900-1985)

Hashomer Hatzair leader, Mapam leader, and a member of the political committee representing the yishuv in the United Nations (1947-48). He was Minister of Labor and Reconstruction in the provisional government (1948), Knesset member (1949-65), Minister of Development (1955-61) and Minister of Housing (1966-69).

Yitzhak Ben-Zvi (1884-1963)

Yishuv leader, Knesset member (1949-52) and second President of Israel (1952-63). He was a founder and leader of the Zionist socialist movement, of the pioneering Zionist labor movement and of Jewish self-defense, and made important contributions to the historiography of Eretz Israel and of ancient and remote Jewish communities.

Eliyahu Meir Berligne (1866-1959)

Yishuv leader, a member of the General Zionists, and a founder of Tel Aviv, serving on its first administrative committee. He was the treasurer of the Va'ad Leumi (1920-48).

Perez (Fritz) Bernstein (1890-1971)

General Zionist leader. He was chairman of the Union of General Zionists, member of the Jewish Agency Executive (1946-48), Minister of Commerce and Industry in the provisional government, member of Knesset (1949-65), Minister of Commerce and Industry (1952-55) and president of the Liberal Party (1961-1964).

Rachel (Kagan) Cohen (1888-1982)

WIZO activist and Knesset member (1949-51). She was one of the founders of the Federation of Hebrew Women, head of the Va'ad Leumi's Social Welfare Department, chairman of the Israel Federation of WIZO and vice chairman of the World WIZO Executive.

Eliyahu Dobkin (1898-1976)

Labor Zionist leader. He headed the Jewish Agency's Immigration Department during World War II, dealing with the rescue of Jews from Europe and illegal immigration, was a member of the Jewish Agency Executive (1946-48), head of the Jewish Agency's Youth and Hehalutz Department (1951-68), and chairman of Keren Hayesod (1951-62).

Rabbi Wolf Gold (1889-1956)

Rabbi and religious Zionist leader. He engaged in educational and communal activities in many Jewish communities in the US and, in various positions of authority in the Jewish Agency, he did much for the establishment of educational institutions in the Diaspora.

Meir Grabovsky (Argov) (1905-1963)

Labor Zionist leader and Knesset member (1949-63). He was secretary-general of the World Zionist Labor Movement and chairman of the Tel Aviv Labor Exchange.

Abraham Granot (Granovsky) (1890-1962)

Economist and co-founder and chairman of the Progressive Party. He served as the managing director, chairman of the board and president of the JNF, and a Knesset member (1949-51). His plan for a joint land authority of the JNF and the State of Israel served as the basis for land legislation passed by the Knesset in 1960.

Yitzhak Gruenbaum (1879-1970)

Leader of a faction of General Zionism and a member of the Polish parliament between the two world wars. He was Minister of the Interior in the Provisional Government, and the first elections to the Knesset were organized under his guidance.

Rabbi Kalman Kahana (1910-1991)

Leader of the Po'alei Agudat Israel movement. He was a founding member of Kibbutz Hafetz Haim, a member of Knesset (1949-81), and Deputy Minister of Education (1962-69).

Eliezer Kaplan (1891-1952)

Labor leader. He was a member of the Hapoel Hatzair and Mapai central committees, a secretary of the Histadrut Executive, a member of the Jewish Agency Executive and its treasurer. He directed the financial affairs of the Provisional Government and was Israel's first Minister of Finance (1949-52). He laid the foundations for Israel's economic policy and shaped its first budgets and its taxation structure.

Sa'adia Kobashi (1904-1990)

Member of the Provisional Council of State. Leader of the Yemenite Jewish community in Israel. A member of the Jewish National Council and Moetzet HaAm on behalf of the Yemenite Association, he signed the declaration as S. Kobashi, adding HaLevi at the end. Was appointed supervisor of the Religious-Zionist education system.

Moshe Kol (Kolodny) (1911-1989)

Zionist leader. He was a member of the Jewish Agency Executive, head of the Youth Aliya Department (1948-64), and, in 1948, a founder and leader of the Progressive Party, which joined the Liberal Party. Later he became leader of the Liberal Party. He was a Knesset member (1951-55, 59-73), Minister of Tourism and Development (1966-69) and Minister of Tourism (1969-77).

Rabbi Yitzhak Meir Levin (1894-1971)

Leader of the Agudat Israel movement. He was active in rescue operations from Europe during the war and led Agudat Israel in Palestine from 1947. He was a member of Knesset (1949-71) and Minister of Social Welfare (1949-52). Meir David Loewenstein (1904-1995) - rabbi and leader of the Agudat Israel movement. He was a member of the Provisional Council of State and member of Knesset (1949-51).

Zvi Lurie (1906-1968)

Mapam labor leader. He was secretary of the world leadership of Hashomer Hatzair (1935-37), member of the Va'ad Leumi (1941-48) and member of the Va'ad Leumi Executive as Information Department Director. After the establishment of the state, he filled various Jewish Agency positions.

Rabbi Yehudah Leib Maimon (Fishman) (1875-1962)

Rabbi and leader of religious Zionism. Together with Rabbi Kook, he established the chief rabbinate of Palestine, and he formulated the rabbinate's constitution. He was a member of Knesset (1949-51), Minister of Religious Affairs and Minister in charge of war casualties in the Provisional Government and Minister of Religious Affairs (1949-51).

Golda Meir (Myerson) (1898-1978)

Prime Minister and labor leader. She served as acting head and later head of the Political Department of the Jewish Agency. She was a Knesset member (1949-74), ambassador to Moscow (1948-49), Minister of Labor (1949-56), Minister of Foreign Affairs (1956-65), secretary-general of Mapai (instrumental in uniting various labor parties to form the New Labor Party) and Prime Minister (1969-74).

Avraham Nissan (Katznelson) (1888-1956)

Labor politician and diplomat. He served as director of the Health Department of the Zionist Executive and a member of the Va'ad Leumi (1931-48), as well as a member of the central committee of Hashomer Hatzair and Mapai.

Nahum Nir-Rafalkes (1884-1968)

Lawyer, labor leader and second speaker of the Knesset. He led Poalei Zion Left and represented it in the Histadrut and the Va'ad Leumi, and became a member of Mapam when the groups merged. He was deputy chairman of the Provisional Council of State, member of Knesset (1949-1965), deputy speaker and speaker (1959) of the Knesset.

David Zvi Pinkas (1895-1952)

Mizrahi leader and politician. He was Mizrahi representative to the Asefat Hanivharim and the Va'ad Leumi, serving as treasurer and director of its Department of Religious Communities and the Rabbinate, a member of Knesset (1949-52) and Minister of Transport (1951-52).

Moshe David Remez (1886-1951)

Labor leader. He was a leader in Ahdut Ha'avoda and Mapai, headed the Public Works Office of the Histadrut (1921-27) and serving as its secretary-general (1935-45), chairman of the Va'ad Leumi (1944-48), Minister of Transport in the Provisional Government, member of Knesset (1949-51) and Minister of Education (1950-51).

Berl Repetur (1902-1989)

Labor leader and member of Knesset (1949-51). He was a member of the Histadrut Executive and the Mapam Central Committee and secretary of the labor exchange of the General Federation of Jewish Labor.

Pinhas Rosen (Felix Rosenblueth) (1887-1978)

Lawyer, Zionist leader. He was a member of the Asefat Hanivharim and a cofounder of the Progressive Party in 1948, a member of Knesset (1949-68) and Minister of Justice (1949-50, 1952-61). He was instrumental in organizing the judicial and legal system of Israel.

Zvi Segal (1901-1965)

Revisionist activist and industrialist. He was vice president of the Revisionist movement in Palestine (1940-48) and a member of the finance committee of the Provisional Council of State.

Moshe (Hayyim) Shapira (1902-1970)

Politician and leader of the National Religious Party. He was a member of the Jewish Agency Executive, as head of the Immigration Department, and played an important role in preventing conflicts between the Haganah and Etzel. He was a member of the provisional government, a member of Knesset (1949-1970), Minister of Immigration (1949-50), Health (1949), the Interior (1949-52 and 1959-70), Religious Affairs (1952-58) and Social Welfare (1952-55).

Mordechai Shattner (1904-1964)

Industrialist and member of the Provisional Council of State. After independence he worked on the development of Jerusalem, was one of the founders of Yad Vashem, and was also a member of the committee that appointed judges to the Supreme Court of Israel. Served as the CEO of the Department of Industry and Commerce, and was in charge of the financial market.

Moshe Sharett (Shertok) (1894-1965)

Statesman and Zionist leader. He was head of the political department of the Jewish Agency (1933-48), member of the provisional government, member of Knesset (1949-56), first Minister of Foreign Affairs (1949-56) and Prime Minister (1954-55). He developed the methods and the machinery of Israel's diplomacy, forming the nucleus of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' staff. He built a worldwide system of international ties for Israel and was the first to foresee that Israel could play a role among the developing nations.

Behor Shalom Sheetrit (1895-1967)

Sephardi leader and Minister of Police. He was commander of the police in lower Galilee and magistrate in various towns under the British mandatory administration. He served as a member of Knesset (1949-67), as Minister of Police and Minorities in the provisional government and Minister of Police (1949-66), in this capacity organizing and developing the Israel Police.

Ben-Zion Sternberg (1894-1962)

Member of the Provisional Council of State and director of the Investment Center at the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Herzl Vardi (Rosenblum) (1903-1991) - journalist and Revisionist activist. He was a delegate to various Zionist congresses, a member of the board of Haboker and editor of the Yediot Achronot daily newspaper (1949-86).

Meir Vilner (Kovner) (1918-2003)

Communist Party activist and member of Knesset (1949-81). He was a member of the Provisional Council of State and secretary of the Israel Communist Party.  He was the youngest and longest surviving signatory of the Israeli Declaration. Elected to the Knesset as a member of Maki in 1949. He resigned from the Knesset in December 1959, six weeks after the 1959 elections, but was re-elected in 1961.

Zerah Warhaftig (1906-2002)

Lawyer and leader of the National Religious Party. He was a member of the Va'ad Leumi and a member of the Provisional Council of State, a member of Knesset (1949-81) and Minister of Religious Affairs (1961-70).

Aharon Zisling (1901-1964)

Labor leader. He was among the founders of Youth Aliya and as a member of the Haganah command, participated in the founding of the Palmach. He was a delegate to the Asefat Hanivharim, a co-founder of the Kofer Hayishuv, Minister of Agriculture of the Provisional Government (1948-49) and member of the first Knesset (1949-1951).


Sources: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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