#336 Moshe Katsav

Moshe Katsav


(1945 - )


Former mayor of Kiryat Malachi, Member of Knesset and minister representing the Likud party, and the eighth president of the State of Israel. Katsav was born in 1945 in Yazd, Iran, and immigrated to Israel with his family in 1951. After a short stay at the "Sha'ar Ha'Aliyah" camp in Haifa, his family was sent to the Kastina Ma'abara (immigrant tent-camp) near Be-er Tuvia, which is today Kiryat Malachi.

He attended the Ben Shemen Children's Village for primary school and graduated from high school in Be'er Tuvia.

Katsav enlisted into the Israel Defense Forces in 1964 and reached the rank of corporal in the Communications Corps. While studying and serving in the military, Katsav also worked and helped to support his family.

As the first student from Kiryat Malachi to attend the Hebrew University of Jerusalem beginning in 1968, Katsav headed the "Gahal" (Herut-Liberals) student faction. While studying, he taught history and mathematics in a high school, and then he graduated in 1971 with a BA in economics and history.

In 1969, at the age of 24, Katsav was elected mayor of Kiryat Malachi as the coalition leader representing Gahal and the National Religious Party. He was the youngest mayor ever to be elected in Israel. Two months later, there was a second round of elections in which his party lost the majority. Representing the Likud Party, he became mayor again in 1974 and maintained that position until 1981.

Katsav was elected to the 9th Knesset representing the Likud, and remained in the Knesset until becoming president. During the ninth Knesset, Prime Minister Menachem Begin sent Katsav twice to Iran to encourage the Jews there to immigrate to Israel.

Under the governments of Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, Katsav served as the deputy Minister of Construction and Housing during the tenth Knesset (1981-1984). He was elected to the eleventh Knesset as one of the top seven members of the Likud and then served as the Minister of Labor and Welfare during the National Unity Government which served in the years 1984-1988. During the twelfth Knesset (1988-1992) he served as the Transportation Minister under Yitzhak Shamir, and under Benjamin Netanyahu's government (1996-1999), he served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism. During the thirteenth Knesset, Katsav served as the Knesset Opposition Likud Chairman.

The public positions filled by Moshe Katsav include the following: Chairman of the Iranian Immigrants Organization; Chairman of the commission to determine higher education tuition; Member of Ben-Gurion University Board of Trustees. In addition, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Nebraska, Omaha.

Following the resignation of President Ezer Weizman, Katsav announced his candidacy for the position of president to run against MK Shimon Peres. Despite the predictions that Peres would win the election, Katsav was elected by the Knesset to be the eighth president of the state with a 63-57 majority. Katsav is the second president of Sephardic origin, and the first president to have been born in an Islamic country.

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