Haim Ramon

Haaretz Service
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Born: 1950, Jaffa

Education: Attorney Military career: Captain in the Air Force

Political career: Ramon was first elected to the Knesset as part of the Ma'arach list in 1983. He was chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (2002), and Secretary-General of the Histadrut (1994-1995). He was Minister of Health in the second Rabin government (1992-1994), Interior Minister in the Peres government (1996), Minister in the Prime Minister's Office during the Barak government (1999-2000) and Interior Minister during the Barak government (2000-2001).

Political achievements: The "Dirty Trick:" Ramon was a central player in the series of events that led to the dissolving of the national unity government headed by Yitzhak Shamir on March 15, 1990, in an attempt to shift power to Labor. The affair was termed the "dirty trick." Ramon urged then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres to topple the unity government, after calling Shas chairman Aryeh Deri, "a close personal friend of mine." Afterwards, he was party to Peres' failure to cobble out a narrow government in April of the same year.

The Whale Speech and leaving the Labor party: In January 1994, at a Labor party meeting, Ramon slammed Rabin and the Labor party ministers for "burying the national health law," which he had tried to have approved. The harsh speech was termed the Whale Speech because he compared the party to suicidal whales swimming onto beaches. Ramon withdrew from the government and ran for chairman of the Histadrut at the head of the "New Life" faction, beating the Labor candidate Haim Haberfeld. Ramon was asked by Rabin to return to the party shortly before his murder, but refused. After the murder, Ramon left the Histadrut and at the request of Prime Minister Shimon Peres, returned once again to Labor.

Toppling the Netanyahu government and positions during the Barak government: Ramon was one of the main opposition spokesmen against the Netanyahu government that was established about half a year after the Rabin murder. He was one of the main orchestrators in the toppling of Netanyahu's government, a move that was supported by most of the house factions.

Ramon co-operated with Barak during the latter's tenure as prime minister and even served as head of Barak's public relations department in the 2001 elections. However, Ramon criticized the way Barak held the Camp David peace talks with the Palestinians in 2001. According to him, Barak blundered when trying to "bring an end to the conflict," by discussing topics such as Jerusalem and the refugee problem. After Barak lost the elections to Ariel Sharon, Ramon was one of the main opponents to the appointment of Barak to position of defense minister by Sharon.

Marital status: Divorced plus two.



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