Election Chronicles > Elections > 1969 Elections

1969 Elections

 

Elections for the seventh Knesset, which were held on 28 October 1969, were the first subsequent to the Six Day War. As the elections approached, the issue of the territories occupied in 1967 became a critical one in Israeli public life. The elections were held more than two years after the war had ended and the sense of euphoria had been replaced by frustration, largely because of the war of attrition on the Egyptian border and the apparent unattainability of either victory or a political resolution. Golda Meir, who had been appointed prime minister after the death of Levi Eshkol in February 1969, was considered a strong leader. She was backed by Moshe Dayan, who was represented as the architect of the victory in the Six-Day War and who was at the peak of his fame. Despite the war being waged along the Suez Canal, this was a time of unprecedented economic growth. Between 1966 and 1967, Israel had been in a recession brought on by the government's attempt to limit spending. Now, the government attempted to offset the prevailing spirit of gloom by preferring expansive economic policies and extensive welfare initiatives..
 

 

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The Arab-Israeli Conflict
Elections for the seventh Knesset were held on October 28, 1969. In terms of the Arab-Israeli conflict, this was a complex period of transition. The State of Israel was still bathed in euphoria over the victory in the Six-Day War, but as time passed, things would begin to change.

Prime Minister Levy Eshkol died on February 26, 1969 and less than two weeks later, on March 8, 1969, Egyptian president Nasser initiated the War of Attrition. Nevertheless, a sense of potency and hope for a glorious future suffused Israeli society at the time, bolstered by the economic prosperity and economic expansion that had followed the Six-Day War. The War of Attrition, which would last almost a year and half, until August of 1970, had yet to mar the public's optimistic outlook. Moreover, things were relatively quiet in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This was partly because the population there was still in a state of shock from the Six-Day War and partly attributable to significantly improved economic conditions as a result of trade and labor opportunities in Israel.

The State of Israel and its government projected a sense of strength and confidence. Political initiatives from the United States and other western countries, which sought Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories and the reaching of political agreements, were not well-received in Israel. Israel had no sense of urgency or immediacy with regard to the need to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.
 

 

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All Elections
​1949 •​ 1951​ •​ ​1955 •​ 1959 •​ 1961 •​​ 1965 •​​ ​1969 •​​ 1973 •​​ 1977 •​​ 1981

 

1984​ •​​ 1988​​​ •​​ 1992​ •​​ 1996​​ •​​ 1999​​ •​​ 2001​​ •​​​​ 2003​​ •​​​ 2006 •​​​​ 2009​​

  

 

 

The Death of Eshkol
The days following the Six-Day War, Israel's major victory notwithstanding, were not easy ones for Prime Minister Levi Eshkol. He became ill with cancer and his grasp on the reins of leadership weakened. His position was further undermined by Moshe Dayan and Yigal Alon, each of whom saw himself succeeding Eshkol as leader of the ruling Labor (Avodah) party. Alongside the political uncertainty, with Dayan's and Alon's camps pulling in opposite directions with regard to the future of the occupied territories, the State of Israel found itself in a period of economic prosperity. Towards the end of 1968, Eshkol's health deteriorated and his days appeared numbered. It was decided that Golda Meir would succeed him in the Labor Party. On February 3, he suffered a heart attack, shortly after which it was announced that he had recovered from this episode and was returning to work. However, he soon suffered another heart attack, and died on February 26, 1969. To date, Levi Eshkol is the only Israeli prime minister to succumb to illness while in office..
 

 

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All Elections
​1949 •​ 1951​ •​ ​1955 •​ 1959 •​ 1961 •​​ 1965 •​​ ​1969 •​​ 1973 •​​ 1977 •​​ 1981

 

1984​ •​​ 1988​​​ •​​ 1992​ •​​ 1996​​ •​​ 1999​​ •​​ 2001​​ •​​​​ 2003​​ •​​​ 2006 •​​​​ 2009​​

  

 

 

Golda Meir
Golda Meir (1898-1979) was born in Kiev and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1906. She grew up in Wisconsin, where she joined the Poalei Zion youth movement in 1915. In 1921, she and her husband Maurice Meirson moved to Palestine. The couple settled on Kibbutz Merhavia, and eventually divorced. In 1928, Golda was elected chair of the workers' union. Throughout the 1930s she advanced in the organization until, in 1936, she became head of the Histadrut's political division. Golda Meirson, who Hebraized her name only after the establishment of the State of Israel, often traveled to the U.S. and England as an emissary and fundraiser. She was a persuasive and strong speaker.

In 1946, when Jewish Agency officials were arrested by the British, Golda replaced Moshe Sharet as head of the Jewish Agency's political division. Before the War of Independence, she met with Jordan's King Abdullah in an attempt to dissuade him from joining the imminent hostilities. After the establishment of the state she was appointed ambassador to the Soviet Union. In 1949, she came back to Israel and was elected the Knesset as a Mapai representative and appointed Minister of Labor. In 1956, David Ben Gurion appointed her foreign minister, a position she held for nine years. After the 1965 elections she resigned from the government and was elected secretary general of Mapai. In 1968, around the time the Labor party was established, Golda Meir was appointed general secretary of the party. With the death of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in early 1969, Golda was appointed temporary acting prime minister. This was largely the result of an internal power struggle in Mapai between the dovish Yigal Alon and hawkish Moshe Dayan. She subsequently headed the party in the 1969 elections, achieving a resounding success.
 
Golda Meir achieved worldwide fame for being a female head of state, one of only three women to have achieved this in the entire world, and the only one to do so by free democratic election. Golda took an emphatic and uncompromising political stance, claiming that there was no partner on the Arab side with whom to reach agreements. This line was reinforced by the need to fight the wave of Palestinian acts of terror that had struck Israel and Israeli and Jewish institutions abroad. After the murder of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972, Golda Meir instructed Israeli intelligence operatives to hunt down those responsible for the massacre.

The Yom Kippur War, which broke out on October 6, 1973, marked the end of Golda Meir's public and political career.  After the report of the commission of inquiry headed by Chief Justice Agranat was published in 1974, Golda resigned from the government and from public life. Factors in this decision were the deteriorating public atmosphere, personal accusations leveled against her with regard to the war, and her failing health. She passed away on December 8, 1978.
 

 

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All Elections
​1949 •​ 1951​ •​ ​1955 •​ 1959 •​ 1961 •​​ 1965 •​​ ​1969 •​​ 1973 •​​ 1977 •​​ 1981

 

1984​ •​​ 1988​​​ •​​ 1992​ •​​ 1996​​ •​​ 1999​​ •​​ 2001​​ •​​​​ 2003​​ •​​​ 2006 •​​​​ 2009​​

  

 

 

 
Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel from 17 March 1969, was renowned for her firm stand with regard to the enemies of the State of Israel in the Arab world. She was distrustful of the Palestinians and rejected the very notion of a Palestinian nation. Golda Meir came to power over an extended State of Israel after the Six Day War, with hundreds of thousands of Arabs residents living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These people insisted on their separate national identity, some directly and some via the PLO and other organizations. Golda, however, stood her ground and several of her utterances at the time would be remembered decades to come. She said, for example: "When I came to Israel there was no such thing as a Palestinian nation" and "We are all Palestinians. Want proof? I still have my old passport."

In a June 1969 press interview in English, Golda elaborated on her stance:
"There is no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist." [sic]
 

 

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All Elections
​1949 •​ 1951​ •​ ​1955 •​ 1959 •​ 1961 •​​ 1965 •​​ ​1969 •​​ 1973 •​​ 1977 •​​ 1981

 

1984​ •​​ 1988​​​ •​​ 1992​ •​​ 1996​​ •​​ 1999​​ •​​ 2001​​ •​​​​ 2003​​ •​​​ 2006 •​​​​ 2009​​