Golda Meir

Lived:May 3, 1898—December 8, 1978 (aged 80)
Career:Prime minister of Israel, 1969-1974
Minister of internal affairs, 1970
Minister of foreign affairs, 1956-1966
Minister of labour, 1949-1956
Party:Mapai Party; Alignment Party; Labour parties

Golda Meir was the world's third female prime minister, serving as prime minister of Israel. She assumed the position after the sudden death of Levi Eshkol in 1969. Meir served as prime minister until 1974.

Meir was born on May 3, 1898, in Kiev, Ukraine. At the age of 8, her family immigrated to the United States and she grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When she was young, Meir joined the Poalei Tzion youth movement. At the end of 1917, she married Morris Meyerson, and they immigrated to the Land of Israel in 1921 and joined the Merhavia group. Meir adapted to life on the kibbutz, but her husband could not. After two years, the couple moved to Tel Aviv, and later to Jerusalem. During those years, their son, Menahem, and daughter, Sarah, were born.

Prior to serving as prime minister, Meir served as secretary of the Workers' Council, and a member of the Secretariat of the Federation Workers' Council. Following the establishment of the Land of Israel Workers Party (Mapai) in 1930, she was considered one of the party's central figures. At the end of 1940, following the death of Dov Hoz, Meir headed the Political Action Department of the Federation, and was among the most hardline activists against British rule. After World War II, she focused on work in Israel and abroad to raise support for the immediate establishment of a Jewish State. During the War of Independence, she undertook several secret missions, including meeting with Abdullah, ruler of Jordan. At the end of May 1948, Meir was appointed Israel's envoy in Moscow. Following elections for the First Knesset (Israeli Parliament) in 1949, she was invited by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to serve as minister of labour. In 1956, she was appointed minister of foreign affairs, and held that position for almost 10 years.

At the beginning of 1965, a rift began to form between Ben-Gurion and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol. Meir sided with Eshkol. Following the Knesset elections, in which the Ma'arach Party achieved great success, Meir retired from the government, but was asked to serve as the party secretary, which she did for two years, and worked to unite the Ma'arach Party with the Rafi Party. For eight months, Meir served as secretary of the Labour Party, which included the Mapai, Ahdut Ha'avoda and Rafi parties. On August 1, 1968, she retired. In February 1969, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol passed away, and on March 17, 1969, Meir was elected prime minister, being the sole candidate acceptable to the Labour Party and the other parties in the government.

Meir served as prime minister for five years. Under her leadership, Israel declared its willingness to accept the Rogers Peace Initiative, which included returning territory occupied by Israel. This declaration led to the dissolution of the National Unity Government, and to the resignation of the Likud Party in August 1970. That same month, the War of Attrition, instigated by Egyptian President Gamal Abed Al Nasser in the summer of 1969, ended in a cease-fire. After the war, the Egyptian front remained quiet until the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War on October 6, 1973.

Following elections for the Eighth Knesset, at the end of 1973, Meir was re-elected as prime minister. However, due to active protest movements, the negative reactions to the Agranat Committee Report, and her failing health she decided to resign in April 1974. At the age of 76, she retired from political life.

Golda Meir died on December 8, 1978.