Yigal Allon

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Yigal Allon
File:Yigal alon.jpg
Date of birth (1918-10-10)10 October 1918
Place of birth Kfar Tavor, Mandatory Palestine
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Knessets 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Faction represented in Knesset
1955–1965 Ahdut HaAvoda
1965–1968 Alignment
1968–1969 Labor Party
1969–1980 Alignment
Ministerial roles
1961–1968 Minister of Labour
1968–1969 Minister of Immigrant Absorption
1968–1977 Deputy Prime Minister
1969 Interim Prime Minister
1969–1974 Minister of Education and Culture
1974–1977 Minister of Foreign Affairs
L-R: Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Sadeh, Yigal Allon, at Kibbutz Hanita (1938)
Yitzhak Sadeh (left) and Yigal Allon, 1948
Lt.-General Yigal Allon (1948–49)

Yigal Allon[1] (Hebrew: <templatestyles src="Script/styles_hebrew.css" />יִגְאָל אַלּוֹן‎; born 10 October 1918 – died 29 February 1980) was an Israeli politician, a commander of the Palmach, and a general in the IDF. He served as one of the leaders of Ahdut HaAvoda party and the Israeli Labor party, and acting Prime Minister of Israel. He was a Knesset member and government minister from the third Knesset through the ninth.


Allon (center) at Iraq Suwaydan, November 1948
Yitzhak Rabin and Allon (1949)

Yigal Peikowitz (later Allon) was born in Kfar Tavor. His father immigrated to Palestine in 1890.[2] After graduating from Kadoorie Agricultural High School in 1937, Allon became one of the founders of Kibbutz Ginosar.[3] Allon was married to Ruth. Their eldest daughter, Nirit, was mentally handicapped.[4] In 1950-1952, he studied philosophy and history at St Antony's College, Oxford.[5]

Allon died of heart failure in Afula[6] on 29 February 1980. He was buried on the shore of Sea of Galilee in the cemetery of Kibbutz Ginosar (Kibbutz Ginosar Cemetery) in the Northern District.[7] The funeral was attended by tens of thousands of mourners, with condolences extended by many world leaders, including Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.[8]

Military career

Allon commanded a field unit of the Haganah and then a mobile patrol in northern Palestine during the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine. During this period he participated in several operations of the Special Night Squads (SNS), under the command of Orde Charles Wingate and H. E. N. Bredin. In 1941 he became one of the founding members of the Palmach. In 1941 and 1942, he was a scout with the British forces who fought in Syria and Lebanon.[9] In 1945, he became Commander in Chief of the Palmach.[10]

On 11 June 1948, at the climax of David Ben-Gurion's confrontation with the Irgun over the distribution of weapons from the Altalena, Allon commanded the troops ordered to shell the vessel.[11] During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Allon led several of the major operations on all three fronts, including Yiftach in the Galilee, Danny in the Centre, Yoav, and Horev in the Negev. His last major military roles as commander were in October and December 1948: Operation Operation Yoav towards the Hebron Hills and Operation Horev along the Southern Egyptian Front. As Operational Commander of the Southern Command he was responsible for security along the borders with Egypt and parts of Jordan. On 4 June 1949 he declared a 8 kilometres (5 mi) wide closed military zone along the border.[12] On 25 October 1949, while he was out of the country, Allon was replaced as OC Southern Command by Moshe Dayan. Most of his Staff Officers resigned in protest.[13] He retired from active service in 1950.[14]

Political career

In January 1948, Allon helped form the left-wing Mapam party. However, after the 1948 war, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion told Allon to dissociate himself from the party, a rival of his own governing Mapai party, as he saw it as too left-wing and a threat to state security.[15] In December 1948, Mapam co-leader Meir Ya'ari criticized Allon's use of tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees to achieve strategic goals.[16]

After ending his military career, Allon embarked on a public political career. He became a prominent leader in Ahdut HaAvoda, which had split from Mapam in 1954, and was first elected to the Knesset in 1955, where he served until his death. He was a member of the Economic Affairs Committee, Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, Education and Culture Committee, Joint Committee on the Motion for the Agenda Regarding Sports in Israel, and the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Allon served as the Minister of Labour from 1961–67. In this role he worked to improve the state employment service, extend the road network, and fought to get legislation on labor relations passed. From 1967–69 he served as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Immigrant Absorption. Allon served briefly as interim Prime Minister following the death of Levi Eshkol on 26 February 1969. He held office until 17 March 1969, when Golda Meir took over after being appointed leader of the Labor Party. He became the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Culture in Meir's government, and served in that post until 1974. During the September 1970 crisis in Jordan he advocated supporting King Hussein in his conflict with the PLO.[17] In 1974 he was a part of the delegation to the Separation of Forces Agreement. He became the Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1974, and held this post until 1977.[18][19] At the time of his sudden death in 1980, he was a candidate for the leadership of the Alignment, challenging the incumbent party head Shimon Peres.

Allon was the architect of the Allon Plan, a proposal to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank with a negotiated partition of territories.[20] The plan was presented to the cabinet in July 1967, right after the Six-Day War. According to the plan, Israel would retain one-third of the West Bank and protect itself from invasion from the east by a strip of settlements and military installations along the Jordan Valley. The mountain ridge west of this strip, which was populated by Arabs, would be confederated with Jordan. A strip of land flanking the Jericho-Jerusalem road, Gush Etzion and a large part of the Hebron Hills area, would be annexed. Minor territorial changes would be made along the Green Line, specifically in the area of Latrun. Allon also called for the development of Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, the rehabilitation of the Old City's Jewish Quarter, and the annexation of Gaza, whose Arab inhabitants would be resettled elsewhere.[21]


Explaining the growing admiration for Yigal Allon three decades after his death, Oren Dagan of the Society for the Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites said, "people wish to live in the kind of state Yigal Allon dreamed of, for example on the Arab-Jewish issue. This isn't a post-Zionist approach, neither hesitant nor apologetic. It's an approach of safety and security that says, 'Our place is here,' but still emphasizes the importance of dialogue, and never through condescension or arrogance. Allon extended a hand in peace, and that's the approach we want leaders to adopt today."[22]

Published works

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  1. The name Yigal or Yigael Allon is Hebrew, translates as "he redeems ...under the burning bush" has multiple contextual references in the Old Testament in the books of Genesis, Isaiah, and Ezekiel
  2. Book review, Yigal Allon, Native Son: A Biography
  3. Israel in the Middle East: Documents and Readings on Society, Politics, and Foreign Relations, Pre-1948 to the Present
  4. Yigal Allon, Native Son: A Biography, Anita Shapira
  5. 'Allon for London' in Jewish Observer and Middle East Review (Volume 16, William Samuel & Company Limited, 1967), issue dated 29 December 1967, p. 1
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  8. Tens of thousands of people attend funeral of Yigal Allon
  9. Yigal Allon (Peikowitz), 1918-1980
  10. Yigal Allon, Native Son: A Biography
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  12. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. Quoting Weitz, Yomani, iv33 entry 4 June 1949.
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  16. Morris, Benny (1987). The birth of the Palestinian refugee problem, 1947–1949. ISBN 0-521-33028-9, page 211
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  20. The Jordanian Option: The plan that refuses to die, Haaretz
  21. 'Allon-Plus' - A rejected plan is resurrected
  22. Three decades on Yigal Allon still inspires youth, Haaretz

External links