Livnat, Limor

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LIVNAT, LIMOR (1950– ) Israeli politician, Knesset member from the end of the Twelfth Knesset. Livnat was born in Haifa, to a mother who was a singer and a father who had been a member of Leḥi. She served in the idf as an education and welfare sergeant, and then studied general literature at Tel Aviv University, where in 1972 she served as deputy chairman of the Students Association, being the first woman to serve in this post. While a student she became politically active in the Likud and in the Movement for Greater Israel. After leaving the university she worked in an advertising company, as a budget manager, and a toy distributor. In 1977 Livnat was elected chairperson of the Young Likud staff. In the elections to the Eleventh Knesset in 1984 she served as spokesperson of the Likud election staff. In 1989 she edited the magazines Bein ha-Shurot ("Between the Lines") and Moked Ereẓ Yisrael ("Focus on Ereẓ Israel") published by the Likud. From 1991 and until she entered the Knesset in April 1992 Livnat served as chairperson of the board of directors of the Construction Center.

Toward the end of the Twelfth Knesset she entered the Knesset for the Likud, replacing a Knesset member who resigned. In the Thirteenth Knesset she served as chairperson of the Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women as well as of the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry on the Murder of Women by their Spouses. In the primaries for the elections of a new Likud chairman in 1993 she supported Netanyahu and remained close to him until after he became prime minister. Livnat was head of the Likud information staff for the elections to the Fourteenth Knesset in 1996. After the Likud victory in these elections, she was appointed minister of communications, in which capacity she acted to open the communications branch to competition, working to open the market for international phone calls to competition and getting Israel to join the agreements of the World Trade Organization on communications issues. She also initiated the "Bezek Law," which enabled the publication of tenders for designated cable tv channels.

At the Likud Conference held in November 1997, Livnat led a move to remove Binyamin *Netanyahu from the party leadership. Following the Likud's defeat in the elections to the Fifteenth Knesset she supported Ariel *Sharon in the contest for the Likud leadership. In the Fifteenth Knesset she was a member of the Knesset Finance Committee, Education, Culture, and Sports Committee, and the Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women. When Sharon was elected prime minister in 2001 Livnat was appointed minister of education, culture, and sport, retaining the position in the Sixteenth Knesset. As minister of education she has had to contend with a deepening crisis in the education system, which resulted in falling scholastic standards and growing violence by pupils. She tried to introduce a system under which all schools receiving government financial support, including schools from the ḥaredi independent system, must teach a certain core program. However, due to political circumstances, the ḥaredi schools were released from this requirement. In 2004 Livnat appointed the Dovrat Committee that proposed far-reaching reforms in the education system, including the cancelation of the middle schools, a five-day school week in return for a long school day, an increase in teachers' salaries hand in hand with longer teaching hours, and the laying off of close to 20,000 teachers. Livnat wholeheartedly supported these recommendations, which, after certain modifications, resulting from opposition by the various teachers' organizations, were partially implemented in the 2005–6 school year.

Livnat strongly objected to Sharon's Gaza disengagement plan but refrained from voting against it in the Knesset, and she did not resign from the government before it was implemented, as Netanyahu had done.

She is a member of the Women's Network and the management of Shorashim.

[Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)]