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Moshe SharettBiography of a Political Moderate$
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Gabriel Sheffer

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198279945

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198279945.001.0001

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A Swing towards the West

A Swing towards the West

(p.537) 18 A Swing towards the West
Moshe Sharett

Gabriel Sheffer

Oxford University Press

The existence of a moderate, liberal, pragmatic, and libertarian camp within the Mapai, led by Sharett, composed of moderates of Ahdut Haavodah and some veterans of Hapoel Hatzair, was made clear during the debate on a constitution for Israel. Early in 1950 Sharett felt that, ‘This situation, whereby our Knesset faction has no position on a constitution and every member pursuing his own line, is a grave problem for our party and source of great shame for the Knesset’. Arguing that it was not politically desirable for ‘the predominant group in the Knesset to have no clear policy’ on such a crucial issue, Sharett said: ‘I have made up my mind. My position does not correspond to that of the prime minister; I ardently support a written constitution for Israel’. This statement referred to Ben–Gurion's notion that for the time being there was no need for a formal constitution, as well as to the ensuing cabinet decision of 13 December 1949, that Ben–Gurion had pushed through, that said: ‘Under the present circumstances there is no need for a constitution. There is only a need for relevant basic laws’. Although Sharett had wished to avoid yet another open conflict with Ben–Gurion at that time, he did convince the secretary-general of Mapai, Zalman Aranne, to convene the party Secretariat and its Knesset caucus to discuss the issue in camera.

Keywords:   Sharett, Mapai, Ahdut Haavodah, Hapoel Hatzair, Knesset faction, Zalman Aranne

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