Yossi Beilin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Yossi Beilin
Yossi Beilin.jpg
Date of birth (1948-06-12) 12 June 1948 (age 68)
Place of birth Petah Tikva, Israel
Knessets 12, 13, 14, 15, 17
Faction represented in Knesset
1988-1999 Labour
2006–2008 Meretz
Ministerial roles
1995 Minister of Economics and Planning
1995–1996 Minister in the Prime Minister's Office
1999–2001 Minister of Justice
2000–2001 Minister of Religious Affairs

Dr. Yosef "Yossi" Beilin (Hebrew: יוסף "יוסי" ביילין‎‎, born June 12, 1948) is an Israeli statesman and scholar who has served in multiple ministerial and leadership positions in the Israeli government. Much of his political career was in the Labour Party. He also served as chairman of the Meretz-Yachad political party. After retiring from political life, Beilin founded 'Beilink', a business consultancy company. He also writes opinion pieces in Israeli papers Haaretz and Israel Hayom.


Beilin was raised in Tel Aviv in a traditional liberal household. At the age of bar mitzvah, he adopted a more rigorously religious life, though did not choose to wear a yarmulke (traditional Jewish cap). He studied in Herzliya Gymnasium school. In the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), he served in the signal corps and participated in the Six-Day War (1967) in Sinai in Division 8. In the Yom Kippur War (1973) he served in the army headquarters. The trauma of the war shook his faith and he stopped living a religious lifestyle.

In 1969 he began his career as a journalist for the newspaper Davar and in 1977 entered the political arena as a spokesperson for the Labour Party. Following the 1984 election of Prime Minister Shimon Peres, he served as Cabinet Secretary and in 1986 became director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[1]

During this period he worked to distance Israel from the apartheid regime in South Africa. In 1988 Beilin was elected to the Knesset by the Labour Party. He was appointed Deputy Minister of Finance, a position he held until the dissolution of the National Unity Government in 1990.[2]

While in the Labour Party, Beilin, along with Yair Hirschfeld and Ron Pundak established the Economic Cooperation Foundation (ECF).

In 1992, after the victory of the Labour Party, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs under Shimon Peres. Secretly, without informing his superiors, Beilin began the Oslo Process, a critical agreement reached between Israel and the Palestinians that led to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza.[3]

In 1995, under the Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin administration, he was appointed Minister of Economy and Planning. During this period he formulated with Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), the "Beilin–Abu Mazen understandings" as a possible basis for a final settlement between Israel and a Palestinian state. These agreements were never signed, but formed the basis of other initiatives. After the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, Beilin served in the government of Shimon Peres as Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

At that time Beilin was also interested in strengthening Israel's relations with world Jewry and American Jews in particular. He initiated the process that lead to the establishment of the Birthright Program in 1999.[4]

In 1997 he was second in line after Ehud Barak as contender for head of the Labour party and as candidate for Prime Minister. From 1999 to 2001, under Prime Minister Barak, he served as Minister of Justice. He also served for a short time as Minister of Religious Affairs. In a usual move for Israeli politicians, he resigned his Knesset seat when he became a minister in 1999.

In 2003 Beilin, along with MK Yael Dayan, left the Labour Party due to its decision to join Prime Minister Sharon's coalition and joined the Meretz Party, which he headed from 2004–2008. From 2006 to 2008, he represented Meretz in the Knesset. In 2008 he retired from political life.

In 2001 he participated in the Israeli-Palestinian Taba Talks in Egypt. As Beilin left government, he initiated the informal negotiation on a very detailed peace agreement model, with Palestinian minister Yasser Abed Rabbo and others.[5]

In 2003, after a lengthy process, he signed the Geneva Accords, creating a possible structure of a permanent agreement between Israel and an independent Palestinian state. In an interview Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gave to the New York Times on April 14, 2004, Sharon said that one of the reasons for his unexpected decision to withdraw from Gaza was his attempt to prevent the implementation of the Geneva Initiative."[6][7]

With the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War (2006), Beilin expressed support for the war. However, he objected to the introduction of ground forces, instead believing that Israel should attack military targets in Syria because it arms Hezbollah.

On October 28, 2008, prior to the eighteenth elections, Beilin announced his retirement from political life. On November 3, the Knesset held a farewell meeting for Beilin with, at the time Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Benjamin Netanyahu spoke as head of the opposition and Ehud Barak as head of the Labour Party.

He issued a condolence message on the death of Yasser Arafat, as well as proposals to give the area of Mount Dov to Hezbollah[citation needed] and pardon Marwan Barghouti[citation needed].


He is agnostic but finds being Jewish central to his identity.[8] He is a social liberal.[9][10]

In an op-ed published in New York Times in May 2015, he called for the establishment of a joint Israeli-Palestinian confederation, without any "artificial partition". Israel and Palestine would be two independent states as part of this confederation, each with its own parliament and government, but will also have joint institutions that will deal with common issues such as water, infrastructure, environment, government and emergency services.[11]

In 2016, Beilin made headlines by criticizing the legacy of Benjamin Ben-Eliezer shortly after his death, calling him an "an aggressive, destructive politician." [12]

Academic degrees and activity[edit]

Beilin has a Ph.D. from the University of Tel Aviv, where he also taught courses in Political Science for 13 years, and has published numerous books dealing with the peace process and Israeli politics and policy.

Business activity[edit]

Beilin is currently the Founder and President of Beilink,[13] a business consulting firm that help clients connect to new markets both in Israel and abroad, make strategic investments and decisions, forge strong international relationships with key stakeholders, navigate the spectrum between the political and private spheres, locate investors, and ultimately expand and strengthen businesses.


In November 2009 he was decorated with the Légion d'honneur by the French ambassador to Israel.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Yossi Beilin now lives in Tel Aviv with his wife. He has two sons and three granddaughters.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ Touching Peace: From the Oslo Accord to a Final Agreement, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999[page needed]
  4. ^ Birthright: The True Story, CreateSpace, 2011[page needed]
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ The Path to Geneva: A Quest for a Permanent Agreement 1996-2004, RDV Books/ Akashic Books, 2004[page needed]
  7. ^ [4]
  8. ^ "Political Expressions of Personal Piety Increase". New York Times. December 16, 2000. 
  9. ^ . 56-57. Jewish Frontier. 1989. p. 9. Some of the party's brightest young lights now "see the need to turn the party into a center, social-liberal party," in the words of one young Knesset member, Yossi Beilin. For those in the Labor Party who want to abandon the party's socialist heritage, there is a clear attraction to Western liberalism and centrist, market-oriented policies.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Hannah Kim, Moment of truth for Cohen and Peretz, Haaretz, March 18, 2004
  11. ^ [5]
  12. ^ http://www.timesofisrael.com/former-minister-calls-politicians-hypocrites-for-praising-ben-eliezer/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ [6]
  14. ^ "Yossi Beilin reçoit la légion d'honneur" (in French). Guysen.com. 2009-11-18. Retrieved 2013-01-19. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Yossi Beilin, Touching Peace: From the Oslo Accord to a Final Agreement. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. 1999. 

External links[edit]