Friday, August 19, 2016

122 - Extracts from the Hebrew Press, June 8, 1956

Ha’aretz of today’s date featured a front-page report with the by-line “Ha’aretz Political Correspondent” (probably Moshe Keren). It was headlined “Tension over the Sharett Affair Eased” and began: 
Yesterday the tension over the ‘Sharett - Mapai secretariat’ affair eased and no decisions are expected to be made in the coming days. [- - -] In view of Sharett’s refusal to become Mapai’s General Secretary, it is doubtful whether Mr. Ben-Gurion would like to openly say that he is interested in a reshuffle in the Foreign Ministry. It would be difficult to find convincing arguments for such a move precisely against the background of the latest period which was characterized by Israeli restraint along the borders and its acceptance of Mr. Hammarskjöld’s proposals. [- - -] It can be assumed that in the coming months the UN’s weight will become more important in dealing with the Palestine question, and precisely at this time political damage might be caused by the departure of the Foreign Minister who has for so long stressed the importance of international bodies in Israel’s policy. It would be also difficult to explain such a move to American Jewry which appreciates Mr. Sharett as an outstanding representative of a moderate and well-considered line of Israel’s foreign policy.
 The paper’s lengthy editorial on the subject (“A Respite in the Battle Around Sharett”) ended with:
 Mr. Sharett’s refusal regarding the General Secretaryship of Mapai was honest. At the same time he demonstrated tactical acumen. By decisively refusing to exchange the foreign ministry for the party’s secretariat, he compelled his rivals to attack him openly in his capacity of the foreign minister. It is not impossible that his rivals were deterred from taking such a step. It is one thing is to claim that only Mr. Sharett is capable of rejuvenating Mapai, but quite another to obtain the agreement of all the party’s leaders to expelling him from the Foreign Ministry. It seems that such an agreement is not easy to obtain, but it is possible that a new attempt in this direction could be made in a later stage.

Under the headline “Moshe Sharett will not resign,” Davar noted: 
Reports published about Moshe Sharett’s resignation from the Cabinet are not true [- - -] said informed sources in Jerusalem. [- - -] No changes are to take place in the Foreign Ministry. The appointment of the candidate for the party Secretary and the various problems involved, including the possible impact on the composition of the Cabinet and other bodies, have not yet reached the stage of decision.
In his “Marginal Column” on page 1 of the Jerusalem Post, Arthur Shaul Super wrote (inter alia): 
The reports which appeared in yesterday afternoon’s press of the resignation of Mr. Moshe Sharett, the Foreign Minister, definitely appear to be premature according to informed opinion in Jerusalem last night. [- - -] The attempts in some of the reports to link the question of Mr. Sharett’s retirement from the office of foreign minister with a cleavage on line within the government [sic.] must fall on logical grounds. It is hardly likely that a situation would be deliberately created where the key figure in the Mapai party organization would be placed in opposition to the government line on foreign policy. In fact there is no division of opinion in the Cabinet on vital and basic questions; the general consensus seems to be that expressed recently by Mr. Ben Gurion that peace is better than a victorious war. [- - -] The best information indicates that despite the spate of rumours no decision has yet been taken. And until a decision is taken it would but be a pity if the constant manufacture of rumour were allowed to have a disturbing effect on the stability of the nation. Israel’s international and security situation is far too grave to allow it the luxury of indulging in the feverish speculations and adventures of unbridled imaginative Levantine politics.
On the previous day (June 7), the Jerusalem Post's political correspondent Sraya Shapiro (“U.N. Decision Will Bring Israel Foreign Policy Reappraisal”) had hinted at Sharett's precarious political position when he wrote:"The Security Council's deletion of the 'peace clause' earlier this week is bound to produce a far-reaching impression on the Israeli political scene. For the thinking Israeli this is a sign that in the future the State's foreign policy should be geared to facts, not hopes. A realization of this sort must necessarily involve an 'agonizing reappraisal'. The stand which the Foreign Minister is now willing t0 adopt is therefore of the utmost importance'. In fact, it overshadows every other issue in the country at this moment, including the question who will be Mapai's Secretary General."

Under the headline “Sharett’s Resignation Delayed Temporarily,” the evening paper Ma’ariv reported: 
Sharett’s departure from the Foreign Ministry and from the government entirely was delayed only temporarily – the crisis between Ben-Gurion and Sharett has not yet terminated – this was divulged by circles close to the  government and Mapai. The matter was postponed for two or three weeks, but there are no grounds to believe that Sharett will remain in the government as Foreign Minister.
The crisis in Ben-Gurion–Sharett relations is not over yet, as revealed by circles close to the Cabinet and to Mapai. The matter has been postponed for a week or two and it should not be assumed that M. Sharett will remain in the Cabinet as Foreign Minister. The change that occurred last night astonished those who are very close to the PM. [- - -] Aubrey Eban has canceled his urgent flight to Israel at the last moment – he was asked to come over for consultations concerning his appointment as Cabinet adviser on foreign policy matters in connection with the expected personnel changes. [- - -] According to the “timetable,” Sharett was to announce his resignation during the next meeting of the Cabinet. [- - -] It was BG who decided to delay Sharett’s resignation after consulting with a few of his aides. It is reported that the purpose of the delay was to make it possible to give the personnel changes in the Cabinet a respectable look and to avoid antagonizing the coalition partners. The coalition partners were surprised. [- - -] P. Rosen, Minister of Justice, had already visited M. Sharett yesterday in order to receive information from a primary source. [- - -] Golda Myerson, the designated Foreign Minister, has put off her journey to the ILO conference in Geneva.