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Rehavam Zeevi

'Rehavam Zeevi\' (1926 - October 17 2001) was a right-wing Israeli politician, assassinated by Palestinian militants.

Rehavam Zeevi was born in 1926 in Jerusalem. He joined the Palmah (the core of what was to become the Israeli Defence Forces) in 1942, and served in the Israeli Defence Forces for the following 31 years. From 1964 to 1968 carried out the duties of the Chief of the Department of Staff in the Israeli General staff; in the next 5 years he has served as the Commander of the Central Military District (Hebrew: "Aluf Piqud ha-Merkaz"). He retired in September 1973, only to re-join the army at the beginning of the Yom Kippur War (October 6, 1973). He then served for several more months as the Chief of the Department of Staff. He finally retired, in the rank of major-general (aluf) in 1974.

Immediately afterwards, he became Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's consultant on combatting terrorism. The following year, 1975, he was appointed as the Prime Minister's consultant on matters of intelligence. Zeevi resigned from this position in 1977, following the election of the Likud premier minister Menachem Begin. In 1981, Zeevi was appointed the director of the Israel Museum in Tel-Aviv. He did much to improve the museum for the sake of the Israeli audience. In 1987, he co-edited a series of books describing various aspects of the Land of Israel, basing on artifacts from the Museum.

In 1988, Zeevi established the Moledet movement that called for harder actions against the Arabs. One of his movement's main political goals was the voluntary transfer of the Israeli Arabs to the neighboring Arab countries. Zeevi was greatly disappointed by the Madrid Conference of 1991, and withdrew because of it from the Likud government of Yitzhak Shamir. He stayed in the opposition for the following ten years. He disagreed strongly with the Avoda governments of 1992-1996 (led by Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres) and 1999-2001 (Ehud Barak), however, he treated favourably the Netanyahu government of 1996-1999 and supported it from the outside.

Zeevi's political views were considered extremist by most of the Israeli public, as they advocated sponsoring a voluntary transfer of Palestinians to neighboring Arab countries. "The Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza," he once said, "have to be transferred to their forefathers' land." On different occasions, Zeevi also called for the invasion and conquest of Jordan and the resettlement of Palestinians into it. (Source: Suzanne Goldenberg, "Sharon's Guard Dog' Bares His Teeth; Minister In New Cabinet Wants All Palestinians Expelled", The Guardian (London), March 7, 2001).

In 1999, his Moledet movement united with Herut and Tkuma into a single fraction - Ihud Leumi (National Union). Following the election of Ariel Sharon in February 2001, Zeevi joined the coalition and was made the Minister of Tourism on March the 7th, 2001. On October the 14th, 2001 Zeevi declared that his party was to quit the government following the withdrawal of Israeli Defence Forces from the Abu-Sneina neighborhood in Hebron. His resignation was to become active on October 17th, 2001, on 11 a.m.

Zeevi was shot several minutes past 7 on Wednesday, October the 17th 2001 by four militants. He was rushed to the Hadassah hospital where he was reanimated, but the medical efforts failed and he died, several minutes before 10 a.m. The PFLP took responsibility for the killing and stated that it was in revenge for the assassination by Israel of Mustafa Ali Zibri, the PFLP head, in August that year.

Although unpopular because of his political ideas, Zeevi was admired by many Israeli politicans, both from the Right and the Left, because of his civil conduct. Zeevi spoke Arabic, and was on friendly terms with some Israeli Arabs and Bedouins. He also used to carry a metal plaque with the list of the Israeli MIAs on his chest, to demonstrate his concern for them. Zeevi was renowned for his deep love to the Land of Israel; the efforts he invested into the Israel Museum are proof to that. Zeevi was survived by his wife, Yael, two sons and three daughters.