Israel Chooses West Bank for Memorial to Controversial General

Rehavam Ze’evi, assassinated during the second intifada when he was tourism minister, advocated 'voluntary transfer' of Palestinians from the West Bank

Rehavam Ze'evi speaking at the Knesset in 2000.
Amos Ben Gershom / GPO

The government will spend about 43 million shekels ($12 million) to build and operate a memorial in the West Bank to assassinated cabinet minister Rehavam Ze’evi, the cabinet decided this week.

Ze’evi, then tourism minister, was assassinated by a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in October 2001 during the second intifada.

The cabinet resolution describes the memorial as a “tourist, educational and cultural” enterprise with a focus on knowledge of the Land of Israel and Israeli heritage. The memorial will also “link Samaria and the Jordan Valley to his legacy,” the document said, using the Hebrew term for the northern West Bank.

Government agencies will settle the final guidelines for the memorial in coordination with the Ze’evi family.

The document says the government will earmark 26 million shekels for the site’s construction and another 17.5 million shekels to run it for the next five years.

This is the third time the cabinet has passed a resolution on memorializing Ze’evi. In 2008, it decided to erect a memorial for him in Neveh Ilan near Jerusalem, but protests led to the cancellation of this decision in 2011.

Next it decided to rename a memorial to the pre-state Palmach militia in his honor, but that move was annulled after Palmach veterans objected that Ze’evi, though a Palmach member, never fought at Sha’ar Hagai, where the memorial is located.

The original decision to memorialize Ze’evi, a former major general and advocate of the idea of “voluntarily transferring” Palestinians from the West Bank, was made in a special law passed in 2005. To implement the law, a public council was established under the auspices of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Since then, various places have been named after Ze’evi including a highway, an overpass, a park, a square, a military base and several streets.

But the decision to memorialize Ze’evi has been controversial for many reasons in addition to his political views. These include a report last year by Channel 2 television’s investigative reporting program “Uvda,” which claimed that he sexually assaulted women and had ties with criminals.