Yigal Allon (Peikowitz) (1918 – 1980)
Allon, born in Kfar Tavor, was a general in the IDF, a prominent figure
in the Labor Movement, a Member of Knesset, and minister. He had studied at
Kadoori Agricultural High School, then in 1931 he joined the Hagana, and from 1937 was a member of the
"Field Companies" ("Plugot Sadeh"), established by Yitzhak Sadeh. He was a
founding member of Kibbutz Ginossar (1937) where he lived throughout his life.
Between the years 1941 and 1942, he was a scout with the British forces who
fought in Syria and Lebanon. Allon was also a founding member of the Palmach
and served as its Commander from 1945 to 1948. During the War of Independence
he commanded over a series of battles: In the Upper Galilee and Safed at the
northern region; in Lod, Ramle and the road to Jerusalem at the center
district; in the southern Shfela, the Negev – including Beer Sheva – and Eilat
in the southern region. He also oversaw the invading forces into Sinai up to El
Arish, but had to retreat under orders from David Ben-Gurion due to American
pressure. Ben-Gurion was also reluctant to allow him to try and conquer the
West Bank from the Arab Legion.
Following the disbanding of the Palmach in 1950, Allon retired from
active military service and became a member of the executive of United Kibbutz
("HaKibbutz HaMeuhad"). He was a member of the Ahdut Ha’avoda-Poalei Zion party
since 1946, and with it joined Mapam (United Workers’ Party), from which he
split in 1954. He was elected to the Knesset on behalf of Ahdut Ha’avoda-Poalei
Zion in 1955, but resigned from it in 1960 to study at Oxford University. He
returned to become a member of the Fifth Knesset. Between the years 1961 and
1967 he served as Minister of Labor under Prime Ministers David Ben-Gurion and
Levi Eshkol. In this capacity he served with a more liberal approach within the
public welfare system. From 1967 through 1969 he served as Minister of
Immigrant Absorption and Vice Prime Minister. During this period, he devised
the "Allon Plan," which stated that Israel will have sovereignty within the
occupied territories over territories that are necessary for its defense. It
also included a reference to return populated territories to Arab control, as
well as most of the Sinai Peninsula, in order to progress towards a solution to
the Arab-Israeli conflict. His plan was rejected by the Government, but it
continued to influence the political system in later years.
Allon became the Interim Prime Minister upon the death of Levi Eshkol.
In Golda Meir’s Governments (1969 – 1974) he served as Vice Prime Minister and
Minister of Education and Culture. In Yitzhak Rabin’s Government, (Rabin had
served under his command in the Palmach), he was Vice Prime Minister and
Minister of Foreign Affairs. Allon was instrumental in the unification of Mapai
and Ahdut Haavoda to form the Alignment in 1965, and in the establishment of
the Labor Party in 1968.
After the political "revolution" in 1977, he abstained in the vote on
the Camp David Accords, though he publicly approved the plan for Palestinian
autonomy. He was elected as Chairman of the World Zionist Labor Movement and
prior to his passing, he managed to fulfill his dream and establish the United
Kibbutz Movement, made up of "HaKibbutz HaMeuhad" and "Ihud HaKvutzot
Allon’s supporters claimed he missed opportunities for leading
positions: His differences with Ben Gurion prevented his promotion for IDF
Chief of Staff in 1949; in 1967, at the eve of the Six Day War, he was in
Leningrad on an official mission, and Moshe Dayan was appointed as Minister of
Defense; and in 1969, on Eshkol’s passing, he was nominated for the post of
Prime Minister, but Golda Meir was elected instead. In 1980 Allon intended to
present his nomination for the leadership of the Labor Party, opposing Shimon
Peres, but he passed away prior to party’s convention.
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