- (1937- )Born in Rabat, Morocco, he has lived in the development town of Beit She'an since immigrating (see ALIYA) to Israel in 1957. A former construction worker, he began his political career in the Histadrut and served as chairman of its Likud faction. He was deputy head and head of the Beit She'an Local Council (1964-77) and the Likud candidate for the position of secretary general of the Histadrut in the 1977 and 1981 elections. He was first elected on behalf of the Herut Party faction of Gahal to the seventh Knesset in October 1969 and had been reelected to all subsequent Knessets. Levy was appointed minister of immigrant absorption in June 1977 and minister of construction and housing in January 1978. In August 1981, he became deputy prime minister and minister of construction and housing and retained those posts in the Government of National Unity established in 1984. In the government established in December 1988, he became deputy prime minister and minister of construction and housing. He served as deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs in the Yitzhak Shamir-led government established in June 1990.In 1993, Levy lost a bitter race to succeed Shamir as Likud leader to Benjamin Netanyahu. He and his followers subsequently withdrew from Likud to form the Gesher (Bridge) Party and submitted an independent slate for the 1996 Knesset election. In addition, Levy declared his candidacy for prime minister. Gesher subsequently agreed to participate in a joint electoral list along with Likud and Tsomet. In return for receiving "safe" slots on the joint list for himself and his cohorts, Levy agreed to pull out of the prime ministerial race. After the 1996 election, he was appointed foreign minister and deputy prime minister, positions he held until his resignation in January 1998, ostensibly due to disputes with Prime Minister Netanyahu over the peace negotiations with the Palestinians as well as over perceived discriminatory treatment of disadvantaged sectors of the Israeli society—including Moroccans and other Sephardim (see ORIENTAL JEWS) — in the proposed 1998 state budget.In the spring of 1999, Gesher joined with Labor and Meimad to form the One Israel electoral coalition that successfully contested the 17 May 1999 election for the 15th Knesset, with Levy installed in the third slot on the joint list. He was appointed foreign minister in the government headed by Ehud Barak and was subsequently named deputy prime minister. For the 2003 election, Levy agreed to return to Likud and was reelected to the 16th Knesset on that party's list. He was not high enough on the Likud list to win reelection to the 17th Knesset in 2006.
Historical Dictionary of Israel. Bernard Reich David H. Goldberg. Edited by Jon Woronoff..
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