Ben-Ami, Shlomo

(1943- )
   Born in Morocco, he immigrated to Israel in 1955. From the mid-1970s until 1987, he served as professor of history at Tel Aviv University, specializing in the modern history of Spain and European fascism. He was appointed ambassador to Spain in 1987; in this capacity, he was involved in planning the Madrid Middle East Peace Conference of October 1991. He returned briefly to Tel Aviv University in 1992 but then left again to run for the 14th Knesset on the Israel Labor Party list. Ben-Ami campaigned to replace Shimon Peres as Labor Party leader in June 1997; he lost to Ehud Barak but garnered an impressive 15 percent of the vote among party members. A leading member of Labor's dovish wing, he was instrumental in encouraging Barak to modify traditional party policy in order to attract support from sectors that did not normally vote for Labor (e.g., Sephardim [see ORIENTAL JEWS], Russian immigrants, and residents of development towns in the Negev).
   Ranked third in internal party primaries for the 15th Knesset (1999), behind only Barak and Peres, he ultimately placed fourth on the expanded One Israel list that won 26 seats in the Knesset elections held on 17 May 1999. On 6 July 1999, Ben-Ami was named internal security minister in the Barak-led governing coalition. Upon the departure of David Levy from the government in August 2000, Ben-Ami became acting foreign minister. He was appointed foreign minister in November 2000, and it was in that capacity that he headed Israel's team to the negotiations at the Taba talks with the Palestinians (December 2000-January 2001). Ben-Ami concluded his tenure as foreign minister in March 2001 and resigned from the Knesset in August 2002. He wrote about his diplomatic experience in Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The IsraeliArab Tragedy (2006).
   See also Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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