Bechor-Shalom Sheetrit (Hebrew: בכור-שלום שטרית, 1895 – 28 January 1967) was an Israeli politician, minister and the only signatory of the Israeli declaration of independence to have been born in the country. He served as Minister of Police from independence in 1948 until shortly before his death in 1967, making him the longest-serving cabinet member in the same portfolio to date.
|1948–1967||Minister of Police|
|1948–1949||Minister of Minority Affairs|
|Faction represented in the Knesset|
|1949–1951||Sephardim & Oriental Communities|
Tiberias, Ottoman Empire
|Died||28 January 1967|
Sheetrit was born in Tiberias in 1895 during the time of the Ottoman Empire to a Moroccan Jewish family that had immigrated to Ottoman Palestine in the 19th century. He was educated at a heder, Alliance school and a yeshiva. After school he attended the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where he was certified as a lawyer.
Following the war he held several positions in the police, including Commander of the Lower Galilee area (where he helped organised the Jewish Mounted Police) and deputy commander of the police academy in Jerusalem. Sheetrit was the prosecutor in the Haim Arlosoroff assassination case. After being made a District Judge in 1935, he served as head district judge in Lod between 1945 and 1948.
A prominent member of the Sephardim and Oriental Communities party, Sheetrit joined the pre-state legislature, Moetzet HaAm. He was also the single Sephardi member of Minhelet HaAm, the proto-cabinet. After signing the Israeli declaration of independence on 14 May 1948, Sheetrit was appointed Minister of Police and Minister of Minority Affairs (a new position) in David Ben-Gurion's provisional government.
Although Sheetrit held doubts about the loyalty to the new state of Israeli Arabs, as a native speaker of Palestinian Arabic he was popular with the Arab community. However, following disagreements with the Ministry of Religions and the Military government (which controlled most Arab areas after the war had ended), the Ministry of Minority Affairs was closed in 1949.
After the first Knesset elections in 1949, in which it won four seats under his leadership, the party rejoined Ben-Gurion's government and Sheetrit remained Minister of Police. Prior to the 1951 elections, Sheetrit defected to Ben-Gurion's Mapai, and was reappointed to his ministerial post after winning a seat for his new party in the elections.
Re-elected in 1955, 1959, 1961 and 1965 (by which time Mapai had merged into the Labour Alignment), Sheetrit retained his cabinet post under new prime ministers Moshe Sharett and Levi Eshkol. He stood down as Minister of Police on 2 January 1967 after more than 18 years as a minister and serving in fourteen different governments. He died 26 days later.
- For this reason we congregated Archived 13 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine Iton Tel Aviv, 23 April 2004 (in Hebrew)
- Dowty, Alan (1988) The Jewish State : A Century Later University of California Press
- The Signatories of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel Jewish Virtual Library
- Peled, Alisa Rubin (2002) The Other Side of 1948: The Forgotten Benevolence of Bechor Shalom Shitrit and the Ministry of Minority Affairs Israel Affairs, Vol.8, No.3, pp 84–103
- Bechor-Shalom Sheetrit: Government Activity Knesset
- Bechor-Shalom Sheetrit on the Knesset website
- Bechor-Shalom Sheetrit in the Labor Movement in Israel website (in Hebrew)