Sapir (Koslowsky), Pinchas

(1907–75)
   Israel minister of finance. A stockilybuilt, fast-speaking man, Pinchas Sapir held Israel’s purse strings in his firm grip for more than a decade. Born in Poland, he joined Hechalutz, the Jewish Labour Movement, while still at a religious high school. He settled in Palestine in 1929, worked as a labourer on the orange groves at Kfar Saba and as a book-keeper at night. To help new immigrants he founded a loan fund and a housing project for the settlement. As a member of Mapai, the Labour Party, he fought for the rights of the workers, organized demonstrations and strikes and was jailed by the authorities for four months. In 1937, the Jewish Agency set up Mekorot, a public company to take charge of the supply and distribution of the yishuv’s water resources. Levi ESHKOL was put in charge and Sapir was appointed his assistant. Early in 1948 Sapir became the quartermaster to the Haganah and after the founding of the state, director-general of the Ministry of Defence, and three years later of the Ministry of Finance. From 1955 he was minister of commerce and industry and was responsible for the promotion and dispersal of factories in the new development areas. In 1963 he was appointed minister of finance and held that post for the next decade, except for a short spell as general secretary to the ruling Labour Party. Sapir regularly began his day’s appointments between 6 and 7 am and worked for some sixteen hours a day even when abroad on fundraising missions. In Golda MEIR’S premiership, Sapir was regarded as very close to her and as the party boss behind the scenes. In the debates on the future of the territories occupied in 1967, he was a strong minimalist, opposing economic integration of the territories and the eventual absorption of a substantial number of new Arab inhabitants.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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