Lt. Gen. (res.) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, a former Israeli minister and 15th Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff, died of cancer Monday at the age of 68. He is survived by his wife, journalist Tali Lipkin-Shahak, and five children.
Lipkin-Shahak was born in 1944 in Tel Aviv and studied at the military boarding school in Haifa. He enlisted to the Paratroopers Brigade in 1962 and served in the brigade’s Batallion 890. During the Six-Day War he served as a deputy battalion commander in the brigade. After the war he was appointed commander of the Duchifat Reconnaissance Unit, which took part in the Battle of Karameh. He was decorated twice with the Medal of Courage for his conduct in the operation and in Operation Spring of Youth against terrorist headquarters in Beirut in 1973. In 1995 he replaced Ehud Barak as the IDF’s 15th Chief of Staff. In 1998 he was demobilized from the IDF.
After retiring from the army he expressed dovish opinions and severely criticized then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He called for the establishment of a centrist party that would include representatives of large parts of the public, as he then told Haaretz. “The Labor Party alone will not be able to achieve peace because of the leftist image that has attached to it, while a new centrist party that would include right-wing forces will succeed,” he said.
In 1999 he was elected to the Knesset as a member of the Centre Party, which won six seats. Shahak was appointed Minister of Tourism and when Yitzhak Mordechai resigned, he took on the additional role of Transport Minister.
Lipkin-Shahak later left the Centre Party in favor of Ehud Barak’s One Israel party. After Barak’s failure in the elections for prime minister in 2001, Lipkin-Shahak resigned from the Knesset and was appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Tahal Group. In 2003 Lipkin-Shahak joined the Labor Party, took part in the Geneva Initiative talks and signed the agreement.
In 1994, serving as the IDF’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Lipkin-Shahak said in an interview that four years earlier he had discovered he had leukemia, but had recovered from the illness. When the illness was discovered Lipkin-Shahak had been serving as director of Military Intelligence, and while battling it, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin allowed him to travel abroad for medical consultations.
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