Hawkish Minister Zeevi Sought 'Voluntary' Deportation of Palestinians

Published October 17th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi, 74, who was assassinated Wednesday in east Jerusalem, was an extreme nationalist who wants to see Palestinians leave the Gaza Strip and West Bank. 

Born in 1927, he served in the Israeli army from its creation in 1948 until 1974, ending up as a general and chief of operations on the general staff. 

After Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories in the 1967 Middle East war, he headed the central military region including the occupied West Bank, where he waged an effective campaign against the infiltration of Palestinian resistance fighters from Jordan. 

He left the army in 1974 and entered politics, becoming adviser on counter-terrorism to Labor prime minister Yitzhak Rabin until 1977. 

He founded the Moledet (Homeland) Party in 1988 and entered parliament on a platform including the "voluntary" deportation of Palestinians to Arab countries. 

In 1991 right-wing prime minister Yitzhak Shamir named him a minister without portfolio. 

The party was renamed "National Union" for the 1999 elections, when it won four seats in the 120-member parliament. 

Violently opposed to the 1993 Oslo agreements which gave partial autonomy to the Palestinians, he was brought into Ariel Sharon's right-leaning but broad-based government after Sharon beat Ehud Barak in prime ministerial elections in February. 

Made tourism minister, though he would have preferred internal security, he soon became a strong critic of the government, accusing it of being soft on the Palestinians and calling for more raids into the Palestinian territories. 

He finally announced his resignation, along with Infrastructure Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in protest at Sharon's decision to withdraw tanks and troops from Palestinian areas of Hebron. 

The resignation, submitted Monday, takes effect later Wednesday. 

He was shot and seriously wounded early Wednesday in an east Jerusalem hotel, in an attack claimed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in reprisal for Israel's assassination of its chief in August. He later died of wounds to the head and neck -- JERUSALEM (AFP) 

© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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