Former Israeli Minister Victor Shem-Tov Dies at 98

Shem-Tov served as health minister in the governments of Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin and was chairman of Mapam party.

Victor Shem-Tov, former Israeli parliamentarian and minister, died on Friday at the age of 98. Shem-Tov, who immigrated to Israel from Bulgaria in 1939, at age 24, served as health minister in Golda Meir's government in 1970 and then in Yitzhak Rabin's first cabinet.

Shem-Tov was the chairman of Mapam (United Workers Party), which later joined forces with Ratz, the Movement for Civil Rights and Peace, to form Mertz. He served as an MK in the fifth, sixth, 11th and 12th Knessets.

Opposition leader and Labor Party Chairman MK Isaac Hezog eulogized Shem-Tov, saying "he turned the ideology of equality and peace into revolutionary action in his developing of Israel's public healthcare system and his diplomatic initiative, which was ahead of its time in recognizing the importance of making peace with the Palestinians."

Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On said on Saturday that Shem-Tov "was a warrior for social justice and peace, who started out as a construction worker and left his socialist mark in all of his public posts, striving for equality, justice and human rights." She added that Shem-Tov – who was number 115 on the Meretz ballot in the elections to the 19th Knesset – will also be remembered for his call to negotiate with the PLO and for his opposition to the First Lebanon War.

Nati Harnik / GPO