Levy, Yitzhak

(1947- )
   Born in Morocco, he immigrated (see ALIYA) to Israel in 1957 and was educated at the orthodox Yeshivot Hakotel, where he received his rabbinical ordination. He served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), achieving the rank of major. An educator by profession, he is a member of the executive of the Bnei Akiva youth movement and its world secretariat. He is one of the founders of the West Bank settlement of Elon Moreh.
   First elected to the Knesset in 1988 on the National Religious Party (NRP) list, he served as the party's secretary general from 1986 to 1995 and was appointed minister of transportation by Benjamin Netanyahu in June 1996. In February 1998, he was elected NRP leader, succeeding the late Zevulun Hammer; he completed Hammer's term as minister of education and culture. He also served as minister of religious affairs until August 1998, when the position rotated to Sephardi Torah Guardians' (SHAS) Eli Suissa. Reelected to the 15th Knesset in 1999 on the NRP list, he was appointed minister of housing and construction on 6 July 1999 by Ehud Barak. However, he resigned (along with other NRP ministers) to protest the concessions being offered to the Palestinians by Barak at the Camp David II talks.
   In April 2002, Levy relinquished the chairmanship of the NRP in favor of former IDF general Efraim (Effie) Eitam and was appointed minister without portfolio. He was appointed deputy minister in the prime minister's office in March 2003 but resigned in June 2004 to protest the evacuation of settlements as part of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Gaza unilateral disengagement plan. In the spring of 2005, Levy and Eitam broke from the NRP to form their own right-wing splinter faction in the Knesset, the National Religious Zionist Renewal Party. The Levy-Eitam faction in turn was incorporated into the right-wing National Union Party. In March 2006, Levy was reelected to the 17th Knesset on the joint National Union-NRP list.
   See also Political parties.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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