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Levi Eshkol


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(b. 25 Oct. 1895, d. 6 Feb. 1969).

Prime Minister of Israel 1963–9 Born Levi Scholnik at Oratovo (Ukraine), he went to Palestine in 1914 and became a farm labourer. When the British entered Palestine in 1917 he enlisted in the Jewish Legion. With Ben‐Gurion and Ben‐Zvi he was a founder of the Histadrut (General Federation of Jewish Labour), as well as of the Mapai (Israel Workers' Party) in 1929. He rose to prominence mainly as Ben‐Gurion's lieutenant. As such, he became Minister for Agriculture and Development in 1951, and Minister of Finance in 1952. In this position, Eshkol presided over a period of considerable economic growth. Despite successfully leading Israel through the Six Day War in 1967, he was relatively conciliatory towards the other Arab states, and refused to annex formally the occupied territories in the West Bank, apart from the eastern part of Jerusalem. Just before his death, he managed to reunite various socialist groups to form the Labour Party.

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