Israel Declares Independence (May 14, 1948)

Figure 1.--Here jubilent Jewish children crowd around a street vendor in Tel Aviv to purchase the new flag of Israel following proclamation of Israeli independence (May 15, 1948).

The decision for Israeli independence was taken by the Minhelet HaAm (מנהלת העם‎‎), the People's Administration (May 12, 1948) The Minhelet HaAm was essentially Israel's pre-independence parliament with representatives from the dufferent bpolitical parties. Tel Aviv was a largely Jewish city and thus a safe place to for officials to meet and decide the independence question. This could not be done in Jerusalem because the city was surrounded by largely Arab areas and the Jews in the city were beseiged. Three of the 13 members were missing, The Minhelet HaAm meetig convened 1:45 PM aand went on until after midnight. The issue was whether to accept: 1) a proposal for a truce and a U.N. Trusteeship to replace the League Mandate or 2) declaring independence. The members voted on the second alternative. Six of the ten members in attendance voted for it. The British Mandate originally granted by the League of Nations over Palestine expired (May 14, 1948). The British High Commissioner for Palestine, Lt. Gen. Sir Alan Cunningham, and British military forces completed their withdraw by midnight. The Jewish People's Council, the leadership of the Jewish Agency, led by Dabid Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, on the same day meeting at the Tel Aviv Museum approved a proclamation establishing the State of Israel. News of the announcement leaked out and people on the streets of Tel Aviv began singing Hatikvah in the streets before David Ben-Gurion even began reading the dceclaration. The actual ceremony was held at 4 p.m. before the British left to avoid making the declaration on Shabbat. It took 17 minutes to read the entire document in a 32 minute ceremony. David Ben-Gurion, chairman of the Palestine National Council, read the declration, "We hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called Israel. ....” Some Jewish officials signed the declaration later and one person even signed twice. Gunfire could be heard from fighting near Tel Aviv during the ceremony. Jewish flags soon flashed on all important Tel Aviv buildings, automobiles appeared with newly minted Jewish license plates, and Haganah officers exchanged toasts in the cafes. That night Tel Aviv was blacked out because of the danger of Egyptian bombing. Celebrations went on throughout the city, especially behind cafe doors. Just before midnight, the celevrations broke into the streets. News reached Tel Aviv that the United States had recognized the new state of Israel. of the United States recognition had just reached Tel Aviv. Four hours after the announcement, the Egyptian Air Force bombed Tel Aviv without any clear targets. Israel did not yet have an air force. An invasion by the rmies of Egypt, Jordan, Lebnon, and Syria immediately followed.


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Created: 8:24 PM 11/4/2017
Last updated: 8:24 PM 11/4/2017