Eban, Abba

Eban, Abba äbˈə ēˈbən [key], 1915–2002, Israeli statesman, b. Cape Town, South Africa. He was educated at Cambridge, where upon graduation he became (1938) a lecturer in Middle Eastern language and literature. During World War II he rose to the rank of major in the British army. In the years preceding Israel's independence, Eban was chief instructor (1944–46) at the Middle Eastern Center for Arab Studies in Jerusalem and worked at the Jewish Agency for Palestine before commencing (1947) his diplomatic career as liaison officer to the UN Special Committee on Palestine. A superb orator and witty debater, he became (1948) Israel's UN representative and served concurrently as ambassador to the United States from 1950 until his election to the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in 1959. A member of the Labor party, he held various cabinet positions before becoming foreign minister in 1966–74. In that office he strove for closer ties with the United States and Western Europe. Among his books are Personal Witness (1992), a memoir, and Diplomacy for the Next Century (1998).

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