Beilin, Yossi (1948–)

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Israeli political figure. Yossi Beilin was born in 1948 in Israel. Between 1969 and 1977, he worked as a journalist at the leftist daily, Davar. During this time he earned a degree in Hebrew literature and a doctorate in political science. In 1977 he joined the Israel Labor Party, where he became one of the main advisors of Shimon Peres. Four years later, he became spokesperson of the Labor Party, a post he kept for almost three years. Within the party he belonged to the leftist current that promoted the struggle against social inequality, supported the opening of a dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and advocated the creation of an Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian economic confederation.

Between 1984 and 1986, Beilin was government secretary in the cabinet of Peres. In 1986, when a new prime minister came in, as specified in the agreement between Labor and Likud, Beilin was named director general of the foreign ministry, headed by Peres. Two years later, elected a member of Knesset, he became deputy minister of finance and the economy in the national unity government of Yitzhak Shamir, a position he kept until 1990. In June of 1992, the Labor Party emerged a victor in the Knesset elections, and Beilin was reelected. In July he was named deputy minister of foreign affairs in the government of Yitzhak Rabin, Peres holding the title of foreign minister. With the support of the latter, Beilin undertook secret negotiations with the Palestinians that led to the signing of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement (the Oslo Accords), in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993.

On 18 July 1995, Beilin was named minister of economy and planning in the Rabin government. That November, after Rabin's assassination, Beilin stayed on in the government led by Peres, but as minister without portfolio, responsible for the peace process. In May 1996, the Labor Party suffered a serious setback in the Knesset elections, losing to Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud. In December, Beilin announced his candidacy for the leadership of the Labor Party, running against Ehud Barak, who won the election to this post. Beilin came in second with 29 percent of the votes. Between 1996 and 1998 he took numerous steps to restart the peace process that had been stalled since Netanyahu had come to power. During Labor's electoral campaign of May 1999, Beilin was in charge of contacts with the Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. On 6 July, after the electoral victory of the Left, he became minister of justice in the Barak government.

On 11 July 2000, Beilin was part of the Israeli delegation at the Camp David negotiations with the Palestinians. On 21 July, during these discussions, he publicly denounced the "myth of a united Jerusalem recognized as capital of Israel" by the international community. In December, he went to Jordan to meet with King Abdullah II ibn Hussein, with whom he discussed ways of rekindling the peace process. Following the disappointment caused by Barak's defeat by Ariel Sharon in the election for prime minister in February 2001, Beilin became active in the opposition to the new Likud policies. He participated that summer in a demonstration in Tel Aviv protesting the military escalation engineered by the Sharon government in an attempt to suppress the al-Aqsa Intifada in the Palestinian territories. Later that summer Beilin traveled to Egypt, where he met with Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Maher, with whom he discussed the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Along with Palestinian Yasir Abd Rabbo, Beilin led the group of Palestinians and Israelis that created the Geneva Peace Initiative of 2003, an unofficial proposal for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

SEE ALSO Abd Rabbo, Yasir;Aqsa Intifada, al-;Geneva Peace Initiative of 2003;Oslo Accords.