Yuli-Yoel Edelstein

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Yuli-Yoel Edelstein
Yuli Edelstein.jpg
Date of birth (1958-08-05) 5 August 1958 (age 56)
Place of birth Chernivtsi, Soviet Union
Year of aliyah 1987
Knessets 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Faction represented in Knesset
1996–2003 Yisrael BaAliyah
2003–2006 Likud
2007– Likud
Ministerial roles
1996–1999 Minister of Immigrant Absorption
2009–2013 Minister of Information & Diaspora
Other roles
2013– Speaker of the Knesset

Yuli-Yoel Edelstein (Hebrew: יולי-יואל אדלשטיין‎, Russian: Юлий Эдельштейн, Ukrainian: Юлiй Едельштейн, born 5 August 1958) is an Israeli politician who currently serves as Speaker of the Knesset.


Yuli Edelstein was born in Chernivtsi in the Soviet Union (now Ukraine) to a Jewish family. His mother, Anita Edelstein was Jewish, while his father, George Edelstein, is the son of a Jewish father and Christian mother. Both converted to Christianity, and George Edelstein is now a Russian Orthodox priest in Moscow.[1] While his parents taught at universities in the countryside, Edelstein was raised by his maternal grandparents. His grandfather had taught himself Hebrew at the age of 70 and used to listen to the Voice of Israel on a short-wave radio. When Edelstein's grandfather died, Yuli began to study Hebrew and read books such as Exodus by Leon Uris, which inspired him.[2]

In 1977, during his second year of university, Edelstein applied for an exit visa to immigrate to Israel. Turned down, he began to associate with a small group of Hebrew teachers who held classes in their apartments. [3]

In 1979, he was expelled from the university and suffered harassment by the KGB and local police. During this time, he found odd jobs as a street cleaner, security guard, and more.[4]

In 1984, he and other Hebrew teachers were arrested on trumped-up charges, charged with possession of drugs, and sentenced to three and a half years. He was then sent to Siberian gulags and did hard labor, first in Buryatia and then in Novosibirsk. He broke several bones after falling from a construction tower. He was due to be transferred back to Buryatia, but his wife Tanya threatened to go on hunger strike if he was returned there.[5]

Edelstein was released in May 1985,[6] on the eve of Israeli Independence Day, the next to last of the refuseniks to be freed.[7]

He did his national service in the Israel Defense Forces, attaining the rank of Corporal.

Political career[edit]

Edelstein as Information Minister, briefing reporters at site of Hamas rocket attack, 2012

Initially a member of the National Religious Party and a vice-president of Zionist Forum, Edelstein founded the Yisrael BaAliyah party together with fellow Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky. He was elected to the Knesset in 1996, and was appointed Minister of Immigrant Absorption in Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud-led government.[8] He was re-elected in 1999, and was appointed Deputy Immigrant Absorption Minister by Ariel Sharon in 2001.

He retained his seat in the 2003 elections, shortly after which Yisrael BaAliyah merged into Likud. Although Edelstein lost his seat in the 2006 elections, in which Likud was reduced to 12 seats (Edelstein was 14th on the party's list), he re-entered the Knesset as a replacement for Dan Naveh in February 2007. He retained his seat in the 2009 elections after being placed twelfth on the party's list, and was appointed Minister of Information and Diaspora in the Netanyahu government.[9]

Following the 2013 elections, he became Speaker of the Knesset.[10]


Edelstein warned world leaders in December 2014, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, against creating a Palestinian state that he thought would go to war with Israel.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Edelstein resides in Neve Daniel, West Bank. He was married to Tatiana, or Tanya Edelstein, who was a Zionist activist. They met in the Soviet Union when she attended a Hebrew class he was teaching. After immigrating to Israel, she worked as a civil engineer. Tanya and Yuli Edelstein have two children together. In 2014, Tanya died of a serious illness at the age of 63.[12]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Reuven Rivlin
Speaker of the Knesset