Former Defense Minister Binyamin ‘Fuad’ Ben-Eliezer Dies at Age 80


Former Israeli defense minister and Knesset member Binyamin “Fuad” Ben-Eliezer has died this afternoon at the age of 80.

Ben-Eliezer was being treated at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv when he passed away from complications related to dialysis treatment he was receiving.

Earlier rumors on Motzoei Shabbos that Ben-Eliezer had died were false, but unfortunately he did pass away this afternoon.

Ben-Eliezer resigned from public service in December 2014 at 78 years old.

Ben-Eliezer served as a member of the Knesset for several parties between 1984 and 2014, and held several ministerial posts, including Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour, Minister of Defense, and Deputy Prime Minister.

Born on February 12, 1936, in Basra in southern Iraq, as Fuad, Son of Saleh and Farha., Ben-Eliezer made aliyah to Israel in 1950, adopting the Hebrew first name Binyamin. He entered the Israel Defense Forces in 1954, and became a career soldier. He served as a Commander in the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War, and was wounded in the War of Attrition. In 1977, he was appointed First Commanding Officer in Southern Lebanon, serving as the army liaison between the Lebanese Christian militias and Israel. He was Military Governor of Judea and Samaria (1978–81) and was Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories from 1983 until 1984. He completed his military service with the rank of Brigadier General.

He was first elected to the Knesset in 1984 on the Yachad list, which merged into the Alignment during his first term. He was re-elected in 1988 and 1992, by which time the Alignment had become the Labor Party. On July 13, 1992, he was appointed Minister of Housing and Construction in Yitzchak Rabin’s government. He retained his seat in the 1996 elections, but lost his place in the cabinet as Labor went into opposition. Following Ehud Barak’s victory in the 1999 Prime Minister election, Ben-Eliezer returned to the cabinet as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Communications. From 11 October 2000 until 3 March 2001 he also served as Minister of Housing and Construction. After Ariel Sharon’s victory in the special election for Prime Minister in 2001, Ben-Eliezer was appointed Minister of Defense in the national unity government, and served as Labor Party leader following Barak’s resignation until Amram Mitzna was elected in 2002. He left the post on 2 October 2002 when Labor withdrew from the coalition.

Re-elected again in 2003, Ben-Eliezer served as Minister of National Infrastructure from 10 January 2005 until 23 November, when Labor left the government. In the Labor Party leadership election on 9 November 2005, he came third with 16.8% of the vote, behind Amir Peretz and Shimon Peres. He retained his seat again in the 2006 elections, and was appointed Minister of National Infrastructure in Ehud Olmert’s government.

In March 2007, Ben-Eliezer was forced to cancel a trip to Egypt after being warned by Egyptian intelligence that he could be arrested, when Egyptian media and opposition implicated him in the ‘massacre’ of 250 Egyptian POWs during the Six-Day War following an Israeli documentary. However, the allegations are disputed by both Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and the documentary film-maker Ran Edelist. Placed eighth on the party’s list, he was re-elected again in the 2009 elections and appointed Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour. He resigned from the cabinet after Ehud Barak left the Labor Party to establish Independence in January 2011.

He contracted pneumonia in March 2011 and was put into a medically induced coma, eventually making a full recovery. He was re-elected in the 2013 elections, but resigned from the Knesset for health reasons in December 2014, and was replaced by Raleb Majadele.

He lived in Rishon LeZion and is survived by his wife and five children.

{ Israel News Bureau / Bio info courtesy of Wikepedia}