Effi Eitam - National Religious Party

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Effi Eitam, was born Effi Fine in Tiberias in 1952, but grew up in Ein Gev. Today, he lives in the Golan Heights moshav of Nub with his wife and eight children.

As an IDF company commander in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, he received a Medal of Honor for fighting in the Golan Heights. Eitam spent most of his army days in the Golani Brigade, but was promoted to the position of commander of the Givati Brigade.

As Givati commander, Eitam found himself in trouble for the beating of Arabs during the first intifada. And, lthough he never stood trial, it delayed his advancement in the IDF and haunts him until today.

In December 2000, Eitam retired from the army as a brigadier-general with 30 years of service behind him. Eitam's retirement was due to a long-running dispute with then-chief of staff Shaul Mofaz, who refused to promote him to the rank of Major General. This was coupled with a dim view of the political echelons for conducting negotiations with the Palestinians.

During a lecture at Bar Ilan University, Eitam directly attacked then-prime minister Ehud Barak and his peace plan, on the grounds that Israel "cannot give up Jerusalem to that murderer, Arafat."

Eitam's words stirred up a public outcry. MKs from One Israel, Meretz and Hadash demanded that he be immediately dismissed from the army, a view shared by Mofaz.

In April 2002, the central committee of the National Religious Party unanimously elected Eitam its chairman, in the belief that he would breathe new life into the party and increase its power in the Knesset. "We are going neither left nor right. We are going straight to the heart and sole of the State of Israel," he said in inaugural speech.

Eitam said that he was opposed to the transfer of either Jews or Arabs, but in the same breath swore that, "the Arabs will never have a government, nor sovereignty, nor an army, in any part, grain, meter or alley of the State of Israel."

Upon his election as chairman of the party, the NRP joined Ariel Sharon's national unity government, despite the Labor Party's reservations and harsh criticism from the left. Eitam was initially appointed minister without portfolio, but in September became National Infrastructures Minister.

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