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Golda Meir

(1898—1978) Israeli stateswoman, Prime Minister 1969–74

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(b. 3 May 1898, d. 8 Dec. 1978).

Prime Minister of Israel 1969–74 Born Golda Mabovitch in Kiev, Russia, she emigrated with her parents to Milwaukee (USA) in 1907. She married Morris Mayerson, and they changed their surname to Meir when they settled in Palestine in 1921 to live and work on a kibbutz. A strong socialist, she quickly emerged as a prominent member of the Mapai Party during the 1930s. She also became head of the political department of the trade-union organization, Histadrut, in 1934. A leading figure in the political department of the Jewish Agency, she was involved in secret negotiations leading to the foundation of Israel, and was appointed Israel's first ambassador to the Soviet Union. Back in Israel, she was Minister of Labour (1949–56), where she helped in the integration of hundreds of thousands of immigrants into Israeli society. She was Foreign Minister (1956–66) until she became secretary-general of the Mapai Party, and was instrumental in the merger to form the Labour Party in 1967. She succeeded Eshkol as Prime Minister of a coalition government, though she found it difficult to work with the forceful Dayan. She was heavily criticized for her policies at the time of the Yom Kippur War, for which Israel had been unprepared. She resigned in March 1974.

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