Dr. Yosef "Yossi" Beilin (Hebrew: יוסי ביילין, born in Petah Tikva on 12 June 1948) is a left-wing Israeli politician and a former Knesset member, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister and Justice Minister, representing both the Labor Party and Meretz, of which he served as chairman between 2003 and 2006. He is best known for his involvement with the Oslo accords, the Geneva Initiative and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in general. His signed expositions on Israeli political and social current events are frequently carried in the left-wing daily newspaper Haaretz and the right-of-centre daily newspaper Israel HaYom.
The majority of Beilin's political career, from 1977 until 2003 is associated with the Labour party. He served as its spokesman from 1977 until 1984, at which point his career in the public service began. He was a Cabinet Secretary until 1986 and a Director General of the Foreign Ministry until 1986-1988. In 1988 he was elected to the Knesset in which he was to serve until 1999. During this period he was Deputy Finance Minister (1988–1990) and Deputy Foreign Minister (1992–1995) under Shimon Peres. His long time involvement with Shimon Peres earned him the derogatory nickname "Peres' poodle" in the early 1990s, a term coined by Peres' political rival, Yitzhak Rabin.
Following that he served in two minor ministerial positions, Minister of Economy and Planning (1995) and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister (1996). After Labour's loss of the election in 1996 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the party leadership in a contest won by Ehud Barak. When Barak formed a government in 1999 Beilin served as the Minister of Justice until the party lost power in 2001.
In 2003, increasingly tainted by his leftist image, he was given an unrealistically low position on the Labour party slate which offered him little chance for election as a Labour Knesset member. Together with Yael Dayan they promptly quit Labour and joined Meretz, where they were received enthusiastically, but without realistic positions either. In the primaries held in Meretz after the general elections, Beilin was elected chairman of the party. As chairman, Beilin's popularity remained low, with the party winning only 5 Knesset seats in the 2006 elections. Eventually, in late 2007 Beilin withdrew his candidacy for the party leadership, after it became clear that Haim Oron was leading in the polls. Oron went on to win the internal elections held on 18 March 2008 to become Meretz's new chairman.
Beilin's association with the peace process is the most notable element in his career. He initiated secret negotiations in 1992 which led to the Oslo accords in 1993. Together with Mahmoud Abbas, another architect of the Oslo accords, he signed in 1995 the Beilin-Abu Mazen agreement, a 'non paper' of guidelines for a permanent solution to the conflict. During 1992-1995 he headed the Israeli delegation to the multilateral peace process working groups. In 2001 he participated in the Israeli-Palestinian Taba talks and, the initiative that he is currently most famed for, signed the Geneva Accords with Yasser Abd Rabbo.
On 28 October 2008 he announced that he will not be seeking a spot on his party's Knesset roster in the upcoming elections. His aides said he "will remain a public figure and will keep pursuing his political initiatives, most of all the Geneva Initiative". On 4 November he was replaced by Tzvia Greenfield, who became the first Haredi woman sworn as an MK.
Beilin holds a soft capitalist agenda, which did not stop him from joining forces with the mainly socialist Meretz. He rarely speaks publicly on social issues, but instead focuses his efforts on promoting negotiations with the Palestinians. In fact, his victory over Meretz's own Ran Cohen was construed as a vote of Meretz electorate of giving precedence to the conflict over socioeconomic issues.
Personal life 
Born in Petah Tikva, Beilin is married with two children, and currently lives in Tel Aviv.
In response to Shas's proposed legislation that would prohibit the practice of cremation in the State of Israel after the hidden location of Israel's first crematorium was uncovered and soon after set ablaze, Beilin announced he had instructed in his will that his body be cremated after he died.
In November 2009 he was decorated with the Légion d'honneur by the French ambassador to Israel.
Further reading 
- Yossi Beilin, Touching Peace: From the Oslo Accord to a Final Agreement. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. 1999.
External links