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Mordechai, Yitzhak (1944–)

MORDECHAI, YITZHAK (1944–)

Israeli politician, minister of defense (1996–1999). Yitzhak Mordechai was born in Iraq in 1944. He immigrated to Israel with his family at the age of five. Mordechai received a master's degree in political science from Haifa University. He served in the Israel Defense Forces for thirty-three years, retiring in 1995 with the rank of major general. Upon his retirement, he joined the Likud Party and was elected to the Knesset in May 1996. Within a month, he was appointed minister of defense, holding that position until early 1999, when he was fired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mordechai joined a new Center Party and became its candidate for prime minister in the May 1999 elections, but withdrew just before the election. He was reelected to the Knesset in May 1999 as head of the Center Party. In July of that year, the new prime minister, Ehud Barak, appointed Mordechai minister of transport and deputy prime minister. He resigned after accusations of sexual assault. In March 2001 he was convicted of sexually assaulting and harassing two women and was given an eighteen-month suspended sentence.

SEE ALSO Center Party.

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