Dov Yosef Government Of Israel Top Secret Confidential Protocols, 1948-1964

A photocopy of the most important record of the development of Israel in private hands – 16 notebooks kept by Dov Yosef, the military governor of Jerusalem during its Independence, containing over 350 handwritten pages documenting the inner workings of the first Israeli government from 1948 through 1964.

Dov Yosef (1899-1980) born in Canada, was the military governor of Jerusalem during the independence war. During Israel’s first fifteen years (1948-1964) he filled a number of key ministerial positions: minister of rationing and supplies, minister of justice, minister of health, minister of development, minister of transportation, minister of industry and commerce. During those years he kept a detailed protocol of all the government meetings and discussions. The first fifteen years are the most crucial years in the shaping and development of Israel, among the many subjects discussed in the protocols are:

1.) The independence war
2.) The Sinai war
3.) The building and empowering of the IDF, weapons trade and strategic decisions (unconventional weaponry, guidelines for preemptive warfare, drafts and recruitment, supply resources and purchases etc.)
4.) Critical political decisions during election campaigns.
5.) Payments from Germany as retribution for the Holocaust
6.) Foreign affairs discussions and the shaping of foreign policy.

This is by far one of the rarest and most complete documents of Israel in its first years. Reading it gives an unparalleled view and insight to the political scene as well as a perspective of the real opinions and thoughts of the first leaders of the nation, all uncut and uncensored from within the closed doors of the governments meetings. It is a backstage pass to the administration of Israel and its leaders in its most crucial and turbulent era. The protocols deal with important issues such as the question of Jerusalem, borders, Palestinian refugees problem, nuclear capability, relations between orthodox and secular Jews, the visions of the people who established the State of Israel, the relations between the Jewish majority and the Arab minority in Israel and much more. These are hot, actual and relevant issues which Israel and the world still debate.

Selected quotes from the protocols

YEAR 1948

The first meeting of the temporary government convened on 16/5/48 two days after the declaration of independence its members were: Ben-Gurion, M. Ben-Tov, P. Bernstein, Rabbi Fishman, A Tzizling, A Kaplan, P. Rosenblit, D. Remez, B. Shitrit, M. Shapira, M Shertok. The telegraph from the USA reads as follows: the government was announced that a Jewish state was declared in Israel and that its temporary government required recognition. The government of the USA recognizes the temporary government as the De-Facto governing body of the new state of Israel.

Ben-Tov and M.S [Moshe Sharet] are angry with the military high command staff for not allowing reporters in the fronts. Ben-Gurion explains that we are fighting against the circumstances. The Egyptians have 20 times the amount of weapons we have, if an unfriendly reporter comes along and sees our poor conditions and reports it, it will cause a great harm. If the world knew the truth it would demoralize our soldiers an encourage our enemies and the result may be grave. If the war resumes it will be a fight for our lives from our view point, ours not theirs, since if we win we will not eradicate the Egyptian people nor the Syrian people, but if we were to lose they will surely destroy us. Places they left they should not be able to return to. The main issue I see from a military standpoint is Jerusalem. The war over Jerusalem is a war over the Israeli nation, not due to its historic significance but due to strategic considerations. The war is not only about the road to Jerusalem but a war for a continuous territory. Jerusalem will not exist if it isn’t tied to the Hebrew state by actual territory. Arab penetration must be stopped. An argument is stirring up regarding the interpretation of The Shabbath rest and if Israel shoud be a theocratic state, rabbi Levin claims that it does and Ben-Gurion answer that it doesn’t and that we based our partnership on that and notified the UN the same. We all want the Shabbath and the Jewish Holidays but in regards to the way they are celebrated there are two opinions.

2/6/48 M.S [Moshe Sharet?] reads a wave of false reports that the Arabs spread around the world to make the impression that they are beating the Jews, that they crossed the country and conquered Netanya, that they are 9 miles from Tel-Aviv. 5,600 immigrants arrived over 15 days. Tzizling: I do not believe in the fiction of Jerusalem as a part of the Jewish state, I insist as before on an international Jerusalem. Jerusalem in a Hebrew nation means dividing Jerusalem and Abdalla ruling a part of Jerusalem. A split and dual-ruled Jerusalem is not good for us neither for peace nor for a future war.

Ben-Gurion: there was a meeting of all our commanding officers; the resolution was that on the eve of the remission the fatigue of the soldiers was unbearable. In every fighting unit there were more than a few casualties and even more wounded, and there are also defectors, those who fled the military.

Ben-Gurion announces that the ship “Altalena” arrived at Tel-Aviv across from Gat-Rimon. Under the threat of two of our ships it announced its surrender. It received an order to sail to Caesarea. In the morning we learned that it stayed put and is anchored across from “Cata-Dan”. Stavsky, Begin and Meridor are bombarding the ship. Ben-Gurion: what happened is a risk to the war effort and to the state. The state doesn’t exist as long as we don’t have a military and control of the military. It is an attempt to destroy the army. It is an attempt to murder the state. On these two questions there must be no compromise and if to our misfortune we must fight, we will fight. The moment the state and military surrender to an armed force we have nothing more to do. All kind of concessions were made from ETZE”L to encourage their disarmament and they violated the agreement. I thought it a disaster that Grinbaum started a negotiation on his own authority it is a matter of the existence of our state and we decided….there will be no compromise. They should agree to turn over the ship and follow the government’s orders. At this moment we received word from commander Alexandrony: “an hour ago the battle in Kfar Vitkin ended, I the full surrender of ETZE”L. Meridor the commander agreed to turn over all weapons and vehicles and sign a declaration which all the ETZE”L personnel will sign as well, in which they agree to report to state authorities when required, the IDF suffered 2 casualties and 6 wounded, ETZE”L suffered 6 casualties and 18 wounded, an order was issued for the arrest of Meridor.

29/8/48 M. Shertok [Sharet] says that the document demands that we cease immigration of Jews of military service age until the matter is settled and that if we refuse he will report to the security council that we defied him on this matter and in his opinion broke the remission. M.S replied to that, that will not do so, the immigration does not sabotage the remission and we will not tolerate the remission sabotaging the immigration.

M. Shapira asks about the news that Itzhak Sade was discharged from the military and if the national security affairs will be in good hands and whether we might be subject to surprises in this matter. Ben-Gurion replies that the military affairs were in the hands of the government also when things were in their worst state since the entire commanding rank was in the hands of the PALMACH. It was not my concern who the commanders were since there was a division of the workload and my concern was only that the soldiers and commanders could win. After the war the government decided that there will be no politics in the military and that the military is under the direct command of the state and it alone. In his [Sade] time there was a PALMACH headquarters in one division and there was an independent regime there. This was ended back then. Those who excelled in the past, excelled mostly in partisan actions which is no longer needed and now we need to train a regular army. Changes are coming throughout the entire command. Itzhak Sade should have been discharged due to his age and many other considerations. He received an appointment without my knowledge and I vetoed it, he was also not right for the position.

Ben-Gurion announces that this morning, in Jerusalem, Etz”el signed an agreement accepting the terms of the government, they are relinquishing all their weaponry. They have a full battalion, fully equipped, from tomorrow morning they will report in the recruitment base.

A discussion regarding the conduct of military personnel during conquering locations, there are accusations of deportations, shootings including at women and children, act of looting and robbery. It was decided to appoint a committee of 3 ministers to check these matters and interrogate civilians and military personnel. A decision was made to build a shortened railway track from Hadera to Tel-Aviv.

Ben-Gurion says that he has explained the government’s position regarding the NEGEV to the “Times” and the “Herald Tribune” in New-York. He told them that we will be evicted from the NEGEV only by force and that England is playing a dangerous game, wanting to prevent contact and peace between the Jews and the Arabs at any cost, and that America shouldn’t be follow them blindly. In regards to Jerusalem he told them that the Jews in Jerusalem will never accept a foreign regime.

It was decided that the first meetings of the founding committee will take place in Jerusalem and then will be held in Tel-Aviv until the question of the capital is resolved.

YEAR 1949

Kaplan returned from the USA and announces that he signed an agreement for a loan of 35 million dollars with the import/export bank on the account of a total load of 100 million dollars.

Discussion on the military structure. We recruited all the man-power 115,000 people, among which 4,500 casualties, 4,000 wounded, 800 prisoners.

Sharet announces our acceptance to the U.N. it was a great occasion. I read to the prime minister the speech I made, I tried to prove the loyalty of the Jewish nation to the idea of peace based on its stake. Ben-Gurion did not agree he claimed against my statements that he wanted us to base our aspiration for peace not based on our stake in Israel but based on the Jewish tradition and moral foundations.

Sharet delivers the word of our ambassador’s first meeting in London, it appears we are on the break of a turning point in the British policy in the middle east and it is a good turn from the Israeli view point.

Ben-Gurion: I am not sure we are seeing the harsh reality in the things we explain to others. We talk frequently about our achievements. We must stop, in my opinion, Arabs from entering the country in any way and by any means, and they should know that we will not discuss the return of Arabs as long as there is no peace. They [the Americans] wish to make us do things without the Arabs agreeing to discuss peace. By doing that they assist the Arabs to push peace farther away. We should not be a party to that. Our national security situation is severe, the Arab nations are 30-40 times our size and refuse to make peace with us. There is an objective significance to that. Our existence for now is a miracle, but we must not count on miracles.

YEAR 1956

G. Meir announces: Nasser announced that he is ending the contract for the Suez canal and that from now on it is an Egyptian canal. He promises free sailing, meaning that it is up to him, he said nothing about keeping the Kushta agreement. Nasser nationalized the canal and also announced that he shall build the Aswan dam from their own money, but that is a lie. There are greetings for Nasser from the Communist countries, it is probable that the Russians knew and maybe even agreed with the nationalization. Ben [Bar] – Yehuda : I do not agree with standing by regarding the actions of Nasser in the canal, why should we not tell the world that this is a universal route that should be opened for all, including us.

Ben-Gurion: Two phenomena dictate the relations with America: the American Jewish community will not be able to keep doing what is does for the state of Israel if America is hostile. Without some measure of friendship of the government and public opinion in America the American Jews will not be able to help us. With Russia too we must have proper relations and friendly ones will be even better despite my opinion of their regime. We should not despair of Jewish immigration from Russia even though chances now are slim. Truces we must follow only on the base of mutual cease of hostilities, if they do not keep the truce it will not exist for us as well. I know what a new war will bring, even if we win it, not 5,000 casualties but many more, settlements will be destroyed, from Beer-Sheva there may not remain anything but a memory and a third of Tel-Aviv may be destroyed. One cannot say that our policy of strengthening the military and prevention of war was not right. On the other hand if we will not be ready to protect ourselves against terrorism and the trampling of our rights, even at the risk of war, it will be worse than war, there will be no salvation for us if terror will rule Israel. Ben-Gurion: any demand of equality for Arabs in Israel is insincere, if it was a sincere demand one should have demanded that Arabs be drafted to the IDF, that is equality. I haven’t heard anything about that from MAPAM nor the Arabs for eight years.

After going over the material carefully I think that the annexation of Gaza into Israel will be a disaster for Israel, we will not be able to digest another 300,000 Arabs. A complete UN regime in Gaza is a great threat to security because it will become a base of operations for the Faddayun which will be hard to fight against, the UN will not be able to prevent it and we will not be able to attack the UN, so I believe the best solution is a De-Facto Israeli regime in Gaza, De-Facto and not De-Jure, meaning Israel will supply all services, courts, schools transportation etc. but with no annexation.

YEAR 1957

A Halperin reports the assassination of Dr. Kastner.

Ben-Gurion: announces that the Russians are building a nuclear reactor in Egypt, not experimental, but rather one to be used for nuclear power. Every reactor that can be used to generate power can also be used to make atomic bombs, so I was told by an American scientist. Our scientist already know the secret to making heavy water, we can obtain the facilities and personnel to build these facilities. This will require the building of a town in the Negev. We can also obtain the heavy water and uranium needed for this reactor. I have no shadow of a doubt that the Egyptians will have atomic bombs in a few years, I do not wish, nor can I take the responsibility for the state of Israel if we will not be armed with the same weapon. We have information that leaves no trace of doubt that the Egyptians are building a nuclear reactor. If we begin in five years we will have the option to generate atomic power for peaceful purposes, in order to use it for non-peaceful purposes another installation will be necessary and special knowledge which requires special technologists and facilities. Ben-Gurion: It has come to my attention that Abramov told Hazan: you did not experience the devastation of cities by the bombs, the meaning of these things is very clear. He knows that our country can be destroyed, we also know from a very true source that there was a thought to bomb Israel during a single night, and no necessarily by an Arab nation. Barzilay: I thought you said afterwards that it was only a rumor. Ben-Gurion: no. Ben-Gurion: we must use the new power that the world discovered, it is already in use in England and Russia, we have no coal and little oil. Eshkol: you claim it will cost 30 million dollars, I am confident it will cost more, but we don’t even have the 30 million. Ben-Gurion: economically, something happened in regards to “Shell”, although they are not stopping from selling us oil, they are removing the firm name they are willing to help us obtain oil but not under the name “Shell”. They may very well succumb to the Arab pressure tomorrow and cease selling us oil altogether. At this moment we can get assistance, tomorrow, I don’t know. We must reach a decision now. It will be a huge liability if we miss this opportunity. In 3 months we will not be able to this deal since at the moment the European union for atomic matters is being established, they will not be allowed to sign further agreements. If we make an agreement now they will be allowed to follow through on it. It was decided to empower the defense ministry to sign an agreement concerning nuclear power.

YEAR 1959

Ben Gurion (on Begin in the Knesset): He stood in hysteria, and shouted: I will hand you over for trial, he thinks that when the reign will be in their hands, they will make suitable rules and then hand me over for trial. It is clear to me. Also, he said in the Knesset that if he won’t speak nobody will speak. Now he doesn’t have the strength, and I know what he will do if he gain power. I do not believe Begin, and not Vilenska that they are democratic. They possess no chance of reaching power, not even by a coalition. I know what he wants – Ben Eliezer threatens with fists in the Knesset – they are fascists. If they have the power, they will not hesitate for one moment – and then will come a civil war. There are those in the country who would not accept it. It must be prevented. If he speaks in the Knesset about “Altalena” I will deliver the facts. Nobody opposed the decision. Rabbi Maimon was abstaining decision. In the temporary state committee it was approved unanimously.

Ben-Gurion: We are somewhat naive regarding our friendships with nations. We think that a Jewish nation identifies with anything we need. There is no such thing. Sometime interests clash, we should not think that France is in our pockets forever that is why we must make ties with Germany, France needs Germany, it is an effort against the Anglo-Saxon hegemony especially England, De-Gaulle realized that he cannot live in the past and he is trying to tighten relations with Germany and build a counter-power or counter-weight in Europe. That is why we must tie close relations as we can with Germany. Anywhere we can find friendship and help in the time of need, anywhere we can get weapons, we must do so and that brings me again to the relations with Germany.

YEAR 1960

Ben-Gurion: I see three possibilities of an armed conflict between us and Egypt a) if Nasser tries to close the straits of Eilat to us. b) the execution of the jordanian project [diversion of river routs to dry Israel up] or severe conflicts on the Syrian border where the topographic layout will force us to use aerial response which will escalate to full scale war c) a surprise attack initiated by Nasser. That is the most dangerous option. In my opinion we have at least three peaceful years. We must prepare during this time in the following fields: 1) raising the armed quality of the IDF 2) the speedup of the reserve recruitment process 3) diplomatic efforts to ensure the supply of weapons and ammunitions 4) stubborn striving to acquiring free weapons from the USA 5) strengthening the ties with the countries of Africa and Asia 6) preparing our market for emergency 7) settling weakness points in the north and south.

YEAR 1962

A discussion regarding the verdict in the Eichmann appeal. Ben-Gurion reports a conversation with Martin Buber. Buber thinks that the execution of Eichmann will cause an anti-Jesus movement that will cause problems for the Jewish people for generations. He also received a letter from Prof. Walter Kaufman that it will be an honor for Israel if a statement was issued that we brought him to a fair trial condemned his actions and the Nazi’s actions, there is no punishment great enough for a fellow such as this, we are not blood thirsty, and setting him free would show the true genius of Israel. … Eshkol: I am inclined to reduce the sentence. D. Yossef: I would like to speak against it. I think the government should consider it again. I ask the members to remember that they may put the president in an awkward position because he will have to sign the document and many hundreds and thousands of Israelis will not like it, especially those who went through the hell of the holocaust, they should be the ones to decide, not us (Ben-Gurion: no, the government decides) I am speaking my mind, if the situation was such that Israel raised itself above all others and when we enacted the Nazi criminals and accomplices law we would have decided on a punishment other than death, that would have been a very good view on life, but the Knesset decided on a death penalty for the Nazi criminals and if we refrain from executing the sentence it will be as if we said, it wasn’t that horrible. But to me that is not the main issue. I do not know hwy we are asked to do anything different than any other state. In Nuremberg 77 death sentences were issued and executed and no one said a word, small countries or big ones, but suddenly when the Jewish people tries to do the same, it is wrong? … Ben-Gurion: the execution will demand special arrangements because we do not want the place he is buried in to become a sacred place, or to give the body back to the family. D. Yossef: they did the same in Nuremberg, they burned the bodies and dispersed the ash. We want to amend item 302 of the jailhouses regulations and determine that after the hanging and after the physician pronounces death the body will remain hanging for an hour after which it will be taken down and the commissioner of the prisons will instruct what to do with it. Ben-Gurion: that is what wanted, that we will decide not to leave a trace of him. Burg avoids speaking his mind, he doesn’t want him pardoned, nor does he want him hanged. Eshkol: it is not a conscience matter to me, I wanted him to live with mark of Cain on his forehead 2 people vote in favor of Eshkol’s suggestion (Eshkol and Burg). We decide (unanimously) not to recommend to the president to pardon Eichmann.

S/N:  0100-9757



Very good.


Total – 9000gr. / 289.3oz.


Each notebook –
Length – 42cm. / 16.535in.
Width – 30cm. / 11.811in.




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