Levi Eshkol was born in 1895 in a small village near Kiev, in the Ukraine. Levi's mother inclined toward Hasidism, and his father toward Mitnagdim. As a result, Eshkol's education was traditional. In 1914, Levi left for Palestine, then a part of the Ottoman empire. He soon volunteered for the Jewish Legion.
Eshkol was first elected to the Knesset in 1951 as a member of the Mapai party. In 1963, he was elected prime minister, succeeding David Ben-Gurion. As prime minister, Eshkol worked to improve foreign relations, establishing diplomatic contact with West Germany in 1965, and also established cultural ties with the Soviet Union which allowed some Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel. He played a premier role in the Six Day War of June 1967; during the crisis, Eskol established a Government of National Unity, with the Defense portfolio placed into Moshe Dayan's hands. In civilian times, Eshkol is best known for implementing the National Water Carrier system.