Sharett, Moshe

(formerly Shertok)
(1894-1965)
   Early Zionist leader; Israel's first foreign minister and second prime minister. Born in Kherson, Russia, and raised in a Zionist household, Sharett immigrated (see ALIYA) with his family to Palestine in 1906, settling in an Arab village in the Samarian Hills. In 1908, the family moved to Jaffa, where his father was a founder of the Ahuzat Bayit Quarter, which later became Tel Aviv. After high school, he studied law in Constantinople and then volunteered as an officer in the Turkish army during World War I. In 1920, while studying at the London School of Economics, he joined the British Poalei Zion Movement. In 1931, he became secretary of the Jewish Agency's political department, and in 1933, at the 18th Zionist Conference, he was elected head of the political department after the assassination of Chaim Arlosoroff. On 29 June 1946, Sharett and other leaders of the Jewish Agency were arrested by the British in Palestine and imprisoned in the Latrun camp for four months. During 1947, he sought approval at the United Nations for the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) Palestine Partition Plan.
   Sharett became Israel's first foreign minister in 1948. Generally perceived as a relative moderate on peace and security issues (especially in comparison to David Ben-Gurion's more hawkish approach), Sharett promoted a diplomatic solution to the dispute with Israel's neighbors. In addition, as foreign minister, he initially sought a nonaligned status for Israel, but after the Korean War, he promoted closer ties with Western democratic countries. He sought contacts with developing nations in Asia and Africa and also signed the Luxembourg Agreement with West Germany's Konrad Adenauer. In January 1954, after Prime Minister Ben-Gurion temporarily retired from office, Sharett became prime minister but retained the foreign affairs portfolio. With Ben-Gurion's return as prime minister in November 1955 against the background of the Lavon Affair and the likelihood of renewed hostilities with Egypt, disagreements surfaced between the two men, and Sharett resigned. In 1960, Sharett was elected chairman of the executive of the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency and remained active in Mapai Party activities.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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