This week in Israeli history

MAY 14 — David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, reads the state’s Declaration of Independence at the Tel Aviv Museum on May 14, 1948.

Center for Israel Education

May 13, 1975 — Israel, U.S. Sign Economic Pact

The United States and Israel sign a wide-ranging economic agreement at the end of a two-day summit chaired by U.S. Treasury Secretary William Simon and Israeli Foreign Minister Yehoshua Rabinowitz in Washington. The pact focuses on four areas: economic cooperation, particularly investment in Israeli industry; elimination of double taxation on income earned in both countries; loan guarantees for investments in Israel; and increased bilateral trade.

May 14, 1948 — Israel Declares Independence

David Ben-Gurion, the chairman of the Provisional State Council, reads Israel’s Declaration of Independence on a Friday afternoon in Tel Aviv. In many ways paralleling the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the Israeli document includes a synopsis of Jewish history, expresses the state’s intentions toward its inhabitants (Jewish and non-Jewish) and its neighbors, and makes the case for a Jewish state under international law.

May 15, 1947 — U.N. Forms Special Panel on Palestine

At the request of the British government, the United Nations establishes its Special Committee on Palestine to study options for the future of Mandatory Palestine. Zionist leaders cooperate with the 11-nation committee; Arab leaders do not. Similarly, the Jewish Agency endorses the UNSCOP majority proposal in the fall for the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states; the Arabs reject the plan, which the United Nations approves.

May 16, 1916 — Sykes-Picot Pact Splits Ottoman Lands

British diplomat Mark Sykes and French diplomat Charles Georges Picot, a former consul in Beirut, complete a secret pact known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement, in which France and the United Kingdom agree to divide the former Ottoman Empire territories in the Middle East after World War I. The League of Nations endorses the agreement, under which Britain establishes its mandate in Palestine and takes control of Transjordan and Iraq.

May 17, 1977 — Likud Wins Election for First Time

The right-leaning Likud claims an upset victory in the Knesset election, putting Menachem Begin in a position to become prime minister and end three decades of leadership by Mapai (the predecessor of Labor) and its allies on the left. Created by Ariel Sharon in 1973 and descended from the Revisionist Zionist movement of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Likud rides support from Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews to win 43 of the 120 Knesset seats.

May 18, 1965 — Spy Eli Cohen Is Executed

Syria hangs Israeli spy Eli Cohen in a public square in Damascus. Cohen, who had infiltrated the highest levels of Syrian society and government as businessman Kamel Amin Thaabet, was arrested in January while transmitting secrets to Israel on an illegal radio, and he was sentenced to death in March. Cohen’s accomplishments include revealing the locations of fortifications in the Golan Heights, vital intelligence in the June 1967 war.

May 19, 1966 — U.S. Agrees to Sell Bombers to Israel

President Lyndon Johnson’s administration announces the first U.S. sale of warplanes to Israel. The A-4 Skyhawk light bomber enters service as the Ayit (Eagle) in Israel in 1968, too late for the Six-Day War in 1967 but in time for the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War. Israel becomes the No. 1 export customer for the A-4, buying 217 of the bombers and receiving an additional 46 to make up for losses in the 1973 war.

Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education (, where you can find more details.