Yuval Steinitz

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Yuval Steinitz
Munich Security Conference 2015 by Olaf Kosinsky-446.jpg
Date of birth (1958-04-10) 10 April 1958 (age 58)
Place of birth Ramot HaShavim, Israel
Knessets 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20
Faction represented in Knesset
1999– Likud
Ministerial roles
2009–2013 Minister of Finance
2013–2015 Minister of Intelligence
2013–2015 Minister of International Relations
2013–2015 Minister of Strategic Affairs
2015– Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy & Water Resources

Yuval Steinitz (Hebrew: יובל שטייניץ‎‎; born 10 April 1958) is Israel's Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, in charge of Israel Atomic Energy Commission and a member of the Security Cabinet. He is a member of the Knesset of the Likud party. He served as Minister of Finance (2009-2013) and as Minister of Intelligence and Strategic Affairs (2013-2015). Steinitz holds a Ph.D. in Philosphy and was a senior lecturer at the University of Haifa.


Born and raised in Moshav Ramot HaShavim, 30 km north of Tel Aviv, he is the eldest of four children. His father is an engineer and his late mother Mina, was a teacher of literature and philosophy. He studied in the biology track at Katznelson High School in Kfar Saba. He was expelled for refusing to sign a letter promising to stop his argumentative behavior in class, and completed his bagrut (baccalaureate high school degree) externally. Steinitz served in the IDF as a soldier in Golani infantry Brigade (1977-1980). He sustained a leg injury during a battle with the Syrian army when he served as resrvist, during the 1982 Lebanon War.[1]

Academic career[edit]

After three years of compulsory military service, he was awarded BA and MA in Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with honors. His doctoral thesis From a Rational Point of View was completed at the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University. The thesis examined the possibility of logical arguments for the existence of god, and the rule of logical reasoning in modern science. In 1993 Steinitz was awarded the Alon Scholarship for outstanding young doctors, which led to a teaching position at the University of Haifa. Steinitz was chosen two years in a row as "The outstanding Lecturer" in philosophy and the philosophy of science. In 1996 he was appointed Senior Lecturer (the Israeli parallel of a tenured professor).

Steinitz has published several philosophy books. The first, Invitation to Philosophy (1987), became a number one best-selling philosophy book in Israel, and was printed in 60 editions. Another book, A Logical-Scientific Missile to God and Back became a best seller as well and was printed in 16 editions. He also published philosophical papers in academic journals including The Philosophical Quarterly, American Philosophical Quarterly, International Philosophical Quarterly, Cambridge Religious Studies, and The Jerusalem Philosophical Quarterly Iyyun.

Political career[edit]

Steinitz's political involvement began in the early 1980s when he joined the 'Peace Now' movement as a young student. He was injured in is leg (again) during an anti-government rally in Jerusalem in 1983, when a right-wing extremist hurled a hand-grenade into the crowd, killing peace activist Emil Grunzweig.[2] His reservations about Oslo Accords signed with the Palestinians, together with his concerns regarding the massive Egyptian military buildup despite the peace treaty with Israel, led him to shift to the right in 1995 and to publically support the Likud Party.[citation needed]

The 15th Knesset (1999-2003)[edit]

In 1999 was elected to the 15th Knesset on the Likud list. A year later he became a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the chairman of its "Subcommittee on Defense Planning and Policy" and a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Constitution Law and Courts Committee.

In 1999-2004 he served as president of Israel's Media Watch.

The 16th Knesset (2003-2006)[edit]

After being reelected to the 16th Knesset, he became chairman of , he was elected to Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, chairman of the "Subcommittee on Intelligence and Secret Service" and co-chairman of the "Joint Committee on Defense with the US Congress", which he established and chaired together with Senator Jon Kyl.[3] Right at the beginning of his tenure, Steinitz declared that the committee wil cease to be "The House of Lords" and will exercise "a very proactive and effective parliamentary oversight of Israel defense establishment. This new approach has led him to series of clashes with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, with Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz and with IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon.[4]

Few months later he established the "Investigation Committee for the Israeli intelligence following the Iraq war" and appointed himself as its chairman. This was followed later on by the establishment of similiar committees in United States and Britain. The committee report in 2004, sharply criticized the Israeli Intelligence Community for misleading alerting reports, following its failure to detect the existence of chemical weapons in Iraq before the war. Additionally, the report also criticized the failure of the israeli intelligence to detect the Lybian nuclear program on time. The committee's public report included a number of specific recommendations:

  • Consider removing SIGINT Unit 8200 from the IDF's and transform it into a civilian SIGINT authority.
  • Accelarate the development of the Israeli spy satellite program, operated together by the IDF an the Mossad.
  • Providing a special program of advance academic studies for young intelligence officers, that will include, among other areas, some Philosophical background. This recommendation was implemented with the establishment of the BA and MA "Havatzalot Program".
  • Appointing a speacial inteliigence secretary to the Prime Minister with the same status as the military secretary.

Alongside with the above, Steinitz established a special Public Committee led by Prof. Amnon Rubinstein to examine the means to improve parliamentary oversight of the defense establishment. As committee chairman often pointed to the massive Egyptian military buildup with modern American weapons. In addition, Steintz expressed a great Support for developing the Israeli Navy into a significant strategic arm and published several articles on this issue at the Maarachot Military Journal.

Unlike Netanyahu, Steinitz did support Sharon's 2005 plan to withdrawal from Gaza. Yet, at the same time, he led a parliamentary battle against delivering the Philadelphi Corridor to Egypt, claiming that the Egyptians deliberatley ignore Palestinian arms smuggling through the Sinai Peninsula. He also argued that the Israel-Egypt Philadelphi agreement might erode the demilitarization of Sinai.

In addition, he called for a rapid "Defensive Shield" Operation in Gaza, prior to the Israeli withrawal, in order to destroy the Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets.

The 17th Knesset (2006-2009)[edit]

Steinitz was reelected to the 17th Knesset in 2006 when the Likud has lost his leading position to Kadima. As an opposition MK became again a member on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and as the chairman of the "Subcommittee on Dedense Readiness". Steinitz was Netanyahu's candidate foe chairman of the "World Likud" in June 2006, but he lost to MK Danny Danon.

The 18th Knesset (2009-2013)[edit]

After being reelected to the 18th Knesset, and following the Likud 2009 victory, Steinitz was appointed Minister of Finance and a member of the inner Security Cabinet by Prime Minister Netanyahu.[5]

He was the first Finance Minister of Israel to submit to the Knesset a two-year budget, instead of the until-then customary one-year budget. This move generated some controversy, with some accusing it of decreasing government transparency[6] and others praising it for its greater efficiency.[7]

In 2012 media reports alleged that Steinitz was attempting to create friction between Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak.[8]

The 19th Knesset (2013-2015)[edit]

In the 19th Knesset Steinitz served as Minister for Intelligence, Strategic Affairs and International Relations in the new government.

The 20th Knesset (2015-)[edit]

Steinitz was reelected to 20th Knesset and became Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources in the Thirty-fourth government of Israel.


Steinitz supported the disengagement plan in 2005, but criticized its implementation. He was particularly concerned about the IDF's intention to transfer the Philadelphi Route, a strategic buffer zone between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, to the Egyptians. He claimed that Egypt would not stop the arms smuggling by Palestinian terrorist groups.[9]

He has campaigned for heightened awareness of the Iranian nuclear threat, lobbying at home and abroad to ensure that Iran does not become a nuclear power.[10]

In 2008, when Israel refused permission for Palestinian Fulbright students to leave Gaza and study in the United States, Steinitz supported this action. He told the New York Times: “We are fighting the regime in Gaza that does its utmost to kill our citizens and destroy our schools and our colleges. So I don’t think we should allow students from Gaza to go anywhere. Gaza is under siege, and rightly so, and it is up to the Gazans to change the regime or its behavior.”[11] Steinitz was against releasing terrorists convicted of murder in a prisoner exchange deal for Gilad Shalit.[2] He disagreed with former Governor of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fischer, on various issues, and has a complicated relationship with Netanyahu, who bypassed him several times in his first year in office.[2]

In June 2013, when Austria planned to withdraw its UN-Troops (stationary since 1974) from the Golan Heights, Yuval Steinitz issued a statement expressing regret at the Austrian move, adding that the lesson for Israel was clear: “Even as part of peace agreements, Israel cannot place its security in the hands of international forces instead of relying on the presence of IDF soldiers.”[citation needed]

In December 2015, after the assassination of Samir Kuntar, he claimed in the newspaper Hareetz that the Finnish Intelligence services was perhaps behind this affair.[12][13] After contact from the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, Hareetz claimed that it was a joke, putting to serious threat Israel's foreign policy.[14]


Steinitz is married to Gila Kanfy-Steinitz, a judge on the Jerusalem District Court.[15] They have three children and live in Mevaseret Zion.[2]

Writings by Steinitz[edit]


Articles and forewords[edit]


  1. ^ A Loyal Ally to Netanyahu Moves to Center Stage as Iranian Talks Heat Up
  2. ^ a b c d 'With all guns blazing' Haaretz
  3. ^ Yuval Steinitz Knesset website
  4. ^ The difference is not in the warhead[permanent dead link] The Jerusalem Post
  5. ^ Netanyahu sworn in as Israel's prime minister Haaretz, 1 April 2009.
  6. ^ Two-year budget feeds corruption Archived 5 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. Globes (27 April 2010). Retrieved on 9 September 2011.
  7. ^ A Case Study in Success: Yuval Steinitz Archived 16 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. Frischoffthepress.com (5 October 2010). Retrieved on 9 September 2011.
  8. ^ Lis, Jonathan. "Kuwaiti newspaper names Israel's finance minister as source of Iran leaks." Haaretz Newspaper, 9 October 2012.
  9. ^ Government confirms: Changes to the peace agreement with Egypt Yedioth Ahronoth, 28 August 2005 (Hebrew)
  10. ^ Claire, Sheera. (12 November 2007) Steinitz: Egypt letting Hamas build an army[permanent dead link]. Jerusalem Post. Retrieved on 9 September 2011.
  11. ^ U.S. Withdraws Fulbright Grants to Gaza. New York Times. (30 May 2008). Retrieved on 9 September 2011.
  12. ^ http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/1.692786
  13. ^ https://twitter.com/LauraHuu/status/678552980937920512
  14. ^ http://www.hs.fi/ulkomaat/a1450578236902
  15. ^ A qualitative edge: Dr. Yuval Steinitz

External links[edit]