Yigal Allon (Hebrew: יגאל אלון; 10 October 1918 – 29 February 1980) was an Israeli politician, commander of the Palmach, and 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 to the ninth inclusive. Allon died unexpectedly in 1980 after he suffered a cardiac arrest.
|Acting Prime Minister of Israel|
26 February 1969 – 17 March 1969
|Preceded by||Levi Eshkol|
|Succeeded by||Golda Meir|
|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|
|Faction represented in the Knesset|
|Born||10 October 1918|
Kfar Tavor, Occupied Enemy Territory Administration
|Died||29 February 1980 (aged 61)|
|Education||Kadoorie Agricultural High School|
St Antony's College, Oxford
Allon, born a child of pioneer settlers in the Lower Galilee, became a member of the Labor Movement and a resident of Kibbutz Ginosar in his teen years. With the eruption of the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, Allon joined the Haganah and later the Palmach. He commanded a squad and Organized key operations in the Jewish Resistance Movement such as the "Night of the Bridges." During the 1947–1949 Palestine war Allon commanded the conquest of the Galilee, Lod and Ramla, as well as the entire Negev up to Eilat as Head of the Southern Command. Allon transpired as a skilled strategist and master of military deception.
After a forced relief from command by Premier David Ben-Gurion, Allon entered politics while being Adorned with the glory of his military service. Allon was one of the architects of the Labor party creation, advocating for the merge of Ahdut HaAvoda with Mapai for the completion of this goal. During his political career, Allon served as Foreign and Education minister, as well as Deputy Prime Minister, and once devised the "Allon Plan" named after him. Allon took part in the Sinai Interim Agreement in 1975 and served as Acting Prime Minister between the death of Levi Eshkol and the appointment of Golda Meir. Allon's reputation as a politician is that of one who missed his opportunity for greatness, such as the appointment of his political rival, Moshe Dayan, to Defense Minister, instead of him, on the eve of the Six-Day War. Allon died while campaigning for the leadership of the Labor party.
Yigal Peikowitz (later Allon) was born in Kfar Tavor. His father, Reuven, immigrated to Palestine in 1890 along with his father and elder brother from Belarus, then a part of the Russian Empire. His mother, Haia Shortz-Peikowitz, came from a religious family from Safed, and her father was a founding member of Rosh Pinna. When Yigal was five years old, his mother passed away and his older brothers went their own path. Yigal, the youngest child, remined with his father. The area of Kfar Tavor was isolated and had to cope with daily raids and thefts by neighboring Arab and Bedouin communities. When Yigal reached age 13 and a Bar mitzvah was held, his father gave him a gun and sent him to protect farm crops from thieves.
In 1934, aged 16, Yigal began learning in Kadoorie Agricultural High School, where he first admitted to the ideals of the Labor movement with its Socialist and Zionist base. It was in school when Allon became aware that his education from home was very poor and limited in relation to his classmates from urban areas. His teachers came with the attitude of expanding horizons and encourage him to close gaps in his education relative to other classmates. In his autobiography, Allon glorified the school director, regarded him as an outstanding educator, claiming he taught him human and social values.
After graduating from Kadoorie Agricultural High School in 1937, Allon became one of the founders of Kibbutz Ginosar. Allon was married to Ruth, who made Aliyah from Germany in 1934, a year after the installment of the Nazi regime. Their eldest daughter Nurit was on the autism spectrum. In Ginosar, Allon made an impression as a local leading figure and became friends with Berl Katznelson. Allon ideologically supported Labor Zionism.
Allon joined Haganah in 1931 and went on to command a field unit and then a mobile patrol in northern Palestine during the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine. During the revolt, while working on the fields and farms of the Kibbutz, Allon was summoned to take a position of command in the Haganah by Yitzhak Sadeh. After completing a squad command course, Allon was appointed to the command of the Mobile Guards. Allon took part in the expulsion of Arabs who immigrated with their flocks to the Jewish fields. He also became known for the ambushes he planned for gangs that infiltrated the settlements.
During this period, he participated in several operations of the Special Night Squads (SNS), under the command of Orde Charles Wingate and Bala 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. In 1945, he became Commander in Chief of the Palmach.
On 22 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 that were ordered to shell the vessel. 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 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 an 8 kilometres (5 mi) wide closed military zone along the border. On 18 October 1949, while he was in an official visit in Paris, Allon was told by his French hosts that Ben Gurion had decided to replace Allon as OC Southern Command and appointed Moshe Dayan in his place. Most of Allon's staff officers resigned in protest. He retired from active service in 1950.
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. In December 1948, Mapam co-leader Meir Ya'ari criticized Allon's use of tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees to achieve strategic goals.
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 to 1968. 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 1968 to 1969 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. 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. 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 Israeli occupation of parts of the West Bank with a negotiated partition of territories. 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.
Allon died of heart failure in Afula 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. The funeral was attended by tens of thousands of mourners, with condolences extended by many world leaders, including Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.
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."