Arens, Moshe

(1925- )
   Born in Kovno, Lithuania, in 1925, and in 1939, his family immigrated to the United States, and he served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He secured a B.Sc. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology but went to Israel at the outbreak of the War of Independence (1948^49) and served in the Irgun led by Menachem Begin. After the war, he settled in Mevo Betar but returned to the United States in 1951 and secured an M.A. in aeronautical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1953. He then worked for a number of years on jet engine development in the United States. In 1957, he took a position as an associate professor of aeronautical engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. He joined Israel Aircraft Industries in 1962, where he was vice president for engineering, while continuing his relationship with the Technion. He won the Israel Defense Prize in 1971.
   Arens was active in Herut Party politics from the outset. He was elected to the Knesset in 1974, and after the Likud victory of 1977, he became chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. He voted against the Camp David Accords but subsequently supported the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty as an established fact. He was appointed ambassador to Washington in February 1982 and there introduced Benjamin Netanyahu as an embassy staff member and into Likud politics. Arens became defense minister in 1983, succeeding Ariel Sharon. Arens was a well-regarded technocrat and gained substantial kudos for his activities as ambassador to Washington in the wake of the report of the Kahan Commission of Inquiry. His record as defense minister gained him similar positive reactions. He served as minister without portfolio in the Government of National Unity established in 1984 until he resigned to protest the government's decision to halt production of the Lavi fighter aircraft. Arens served again as minister without portfolio from April to December 1988, when he became foreign minister in the Likud-led Government of National Unity. In June 1990, he became minister of defense in a Likud-led government, a position he held throughout the Persian Gulf War (1991). He retired from party politics after the 1992 Knesset election.
   On 11 January 1999, Arens left retirement to challenge Netanyahu for the leadership of the Likud Party but was soundly defeated by him in the party primary held on 26 January 1999. Arens was subsequently appointed interim defense minister, replacing the fired Yitzhak Mordechai, and he was elected to the 15th Knesset on the Likud list on 17 May 1999. Arens was not included on the Likud slate for the 2003 election to the 16th Knesset.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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