P. 195

meeting, which lasted only an hour. Speaker Sprinzak notified the Knesset members that during the day (February 16) they would convene one more time in order to welcome the new President and he would be sworn in. A delegation of Knesset members would be dispatched immediately in the morning for his home in the colony of Rehovot and he would return with him to Jerusalem, to the swearing in ceremony.
According to his biographer Norman Rose, Weizmann anxiously awaited the results of the vote, but when it was delayed, he informed his house guests: "I'm going to bed. You may sit and wait if you wish." Only in the morning was he informed of his election as President by an impressive majority. Before noon, a delegation of 12 Knesset Members, one for every tribe of Israel, arrived at his home, headed by Speaker Yosef Sprinzak, and invited him to join it and go to Jerusalem.
All the residents of the Colony of Rehovot waited for him for his trip. His car had passed by Weizmann Street, which had already been dedicated to him in his lifetime, and turn left to the main street, Herzl Street, where thousands awaited him. The names of the streets said everything about the Zionist dream and its fulfillment. At the center of the colony, his car stopped and a little, bespectacled girl delivered to him a bouquet of roses. Weizmann seemed quite excited.
A convoy of vehicles had organized in Rehovot: At its head were two police motorcycles, behind them a military jeep, the President's car, three cars of the Knesset Members, a police car and two police motorcycles bringing up the rear. The large audience clapped as the convoy set out.
There was a similar display of esteem and even love in Jerusalem for the man that contributed so much to the establishment of the State. Tens of thousands filled the sidewalks and were seen on all the rooftops. When Dr. Weizmann arrived at the square in front of the National Institutions Building, he was met by Yehezkel Sahar, the Police Commissioner, and by three senior IDF officers: General David Shaltiel, General Aaron Remez, the Commander of the air force and Captain S. Ben Zvi of the navy. They accompanied him as he entered the Institutions Building. The audience gathered around the plaza called out rhythmically "Long Live!"
In the entrance to the meeting hall, where the First Knesset convened for the festive meeting, two men with shofars greeted the President with tremulous notes. Knesset Members and guests, including his sisters, waited for him in the hall. Dr. Weizmann went up to the stage accompanied by the four senior officers, two on each side.
Knesset Speaker Yosef Sprinzak read the words of the oath to the President: "I, Chaim son of Oizer and Rachel Weizmann swear as president to remain faithful to the State of Israel and its laws." The President raised his hand and repeated the Speaker's statement word for word. Afterward Sprinzak announced: "Long live the President!"
One person who was absent from the ceremony was Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who fell ill. At the beginning of his speech, President Weizmann wished him a speedy recovery. The president

   193   194   195   196   197