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1973: Israel's founding father dies

VIDEO : BBC News obituary of David Ben-Gurion

David Ben-Gurion, a founder of the Israeli state and its first prime minister, has died aged 87.

Mr Ben-Gurion died from a brain haemorrhage he suffered two weeks ago.

His body is lying in state in the courtyard of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, in Jerusalem.

Thousands of mourners have already paid their respects as the nation's flags fly at half mast and all places of entertainment have been shut as a mark of respect.


Mr Ben-Gurion, who spent his adult life working for the cause of Zionism, the creation of an Israeli state, realised his dream on 14 May 1948.

He led his country between 1948 and 1963 despite resigning in 1953 because he was ''spiritually weary''.

He returned as Minister of Defence in 1955 and became prime minister after summer elections that year.

Israel will come to a standstill at 1100 local time on 3 December for Mr Ben-Gurion's funeral at the Knesset.

His relatives and close associates will then accompany the coffin by helicopter to Sdeh Boker, the Negev Kibbutz where he made his home 20 years ago.

Tributes have been flooding in from around the world.

Prime Minister Edward Heath paid tribute to Mr Ben-Gurion and expressed his "great sorrow" to his Israeli counterpart, Golda Meir.

Life-long socialist

West German Chancellor Willy Brandt said Mr Ben-Gurion would be remembered for offering the new Germany his hand for a new beginning and reconciliation after the war.

Mr Ben-Gurion was a life-long socialist, partly responsible for the Israeli kibbutz settlements.

He led Israel through two of its wars, including the 1956 Suez canal crisis which saw the country capture Sinai.

But he remained politically controversial until his death often criticising the state for not returning land captured from neighbouring states during the 1967 war.

He will be interred beside his wife, Paula.

In Context
David Ben-Gurion died just two months after the end of the 1973 war in which Egyptian and Syrian forces retook key positions lost in the 1967 "Six Day" war.

The day of his death coincided with new clashes between his homeland and Syria over the Golan Heights, which Israel had captured in 1967.

Successive attempts by the US and the United Nations to reach peace and security in the Middle East have foundered.

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