On March 17, 1969, for the first time, a woman assumed the leadership of the Israeli government. Meir’s resolute character earned him the recognition of Ben Gurion, the founder of Israel, of whom she had been a minister.
Golda Meir was the first and until now the only woman at the head of government in Israel. In February 1969, at the age of 70, she was already thinking about ending her political career, when then Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, Ben Gurion’s successor, suddenly died. Golda Meir was the third option of the labor bloc since the first two candidates did not obtain a clear majority in parliament. Meir received only 12 votes against the Knesset.
The broad government coalition was maintained. Although in the elections, a few months later, her party lost an absolute majority in parliament (56 out of 120 terms), Meir remained in power.
The beginning of the political career
Gold Meir, who was a heavy smoker and had an American accent, was born in Kyiv in 1898. At the age of eight, she migrated with her parents to the United States. She studied teaching and participated in the Zionist movement. In 1921, she migrated with her husband, Morris Myerson, to the Palestinian region, then British territory. Two years later, they moved to Tel Aviv, where their two children were born.
At this time, Golda Myerson began his political career. She joined the Histadrut trade union movement and, as her political leader, actively negotiated with the British to allow more Jews to occupy Palestine. Britain was decreasing its share of Jewish migrants, fearing reactions from the Arabs.
“Golda”, as it was known throughout Israel at first, made contacts with Arab neighbors to avoid the impending war. Dressed in Arabic, she negotiated with King Abdallah of Transjordan to prevent an attack on Israel, which was constituting itself as a state. She failed, but her determination impressed the Arab world.
In May 1948, Golda participated in the signing of the proclamation of Israel and, in the first government team, she was an Israeli ambassador in Moscow. At the same time, Golda Meir held a chair at the Knesset until 1974.
In March 1949, she took over the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, and from 1956 to 1966, she was Foreign Minister. Early on, she had to defend the Israeli offensive against Egypt before the United Nations. Another arduous task was the negotiations for the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the Sinai peninsula.
The unification of the left
In December 1965, at the age of 68, Golda Meir resigned from the ministry for health reasons, but two months later she was elected secretary-general of the Mapai Party, managing to unify three left parties and form the Labor Party.
Three years later, she took over as prime minister. Her government was marked by the Six-Day War, in 1967, between Israel and the Arab front, led by Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. During this period, Israel occupied the eastern sector of Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights in Syria.
Instead of peace, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s terror began. The situation was aggravated in October 1973, with the Yom Kippur War. Syria and Egypt attacked Israeli positions to recover the territories lost in the Six Day War. The failure of the Israeli strategy at the beginning of this second war and the increase in Israel’s international isolation were reflected in domestic politics.
Growing criticism of the government and the huge loss of voters in the December 1973 vote led Golda Meir to decide to resign in April 1974. She died on December 8, 1978, in Jerusalem, at the age of 80.