Meridor, Dan

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MERIDOR, DAN (1947– ), Israeli politician and lawyer, member of the Eleventh to Fifteenth Knessets. Meridor was born in Jerusalem, son of Eliahu Meridor, who served in the Fourth to Sixth Knessets on the *Ḥerut Movement and *Gaḥal lists. Dan Meridor went to school in Jerusalem and finished the Hebrew Gymnasium High School in 1965. He served in the army in the Armored Division and then studied law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After completing his degree he went into private law practice in Jerusalem. In 1973 he joined the Ḥerut Movement Executive, where he was viewed as one of the "Ḥerut princes" – sons of the movement's founders. He failed to get onto the *Likud list to the Ninth Knesset in 1977. After the elections he was offered several positions in the government but rejected them all. During Operation Peace for Galilee, after the resignation of Arie Na'or as government secretary, Meridor was appointed in his place, serving in this position until being elected to the Eleventh Knesset in 1984. He referred to the Sabra and Shatilla massacre in Lebanon as "the ugly accident." In the government formed by Yitzhak *Shamir after the elections to the Twelfth Knesset in 1988 Meridor was appointed minister of justice. In that position Meridor took a clear liberal line on issues of human rights and the rule of law, actively promoting the passing of Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom, and Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation, which were viewed as the first stage in the passing of a complete bill of human rights. Meridor also insisted that human rights and the rule of law be preserved with regards to the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the difficult period of the first Intifada. As a result he gained many political enemies in the extreme right. He continued to push for the passing of additional basic laws in the field of human rights, and promoted Basic Law: Legislation in the Thirteenth Knesset, when the Likud was in opposition. In the primaries in the Likud for a new leader after the 1992 electoral defeat, Meridor supported the candidature of his friend Ze'ev Binyamin *Begin opposite Binyamin *Netanyahu, despite Begin's more right-wing positions. In the government formed by Netanyahu after the elections to the Fourteenth Knesset in 1996, Meridor was appointed minister of finance in which role he advocated a further liberalization of the economy, and the privatization of government-owned companies, the banks whose shares were held by the government since the 1983 bank crisis, and state lands. Meridor resigned from the government in June 1997 after expressing his dissatisfaction with the appointment of Ronnie Bar-On as attorney general, and Netanyahu's treatment of the issue, and owing to growing tension with the governor of the Bank of Israel, Prof. Ya'akov *Frankel, on his interest rate and foreign exchange policies. In February 1999, Meridor was one of several leading members of the Likud, including Yitzhak Mordechai and Roni *Milo, who left the party to form the new Center Party. The new party gained six seats in the elections to the Fifteenth Knesset. Meridor was not appointed as a minister in the government formed by Ehud *Barak in 1999, which was joined by the Center Party, and was appointed chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, until he joined the government formed by Ariel *Sharon in 2001 as minister without portfolio. The Center Party began to disintegrate after the elections for prime minister of February 2001, and though Meridor had decided to return to the Likud, he formally remained part of the Center Party parliamentary group.

Throughout his political career Meridor was known for his honesty, mild temper, and gentlemanly demeanor, which while gaining for him a good deal of respect, also led to his being presented by satirists as a weak figure, and made it very difficult for him to contend with the new atmosphere that developed in the Likud Conference before and after the elections to the Sixteenth Knesset. As a result he decided not to run for a place on the Likud list to the Sixteenth Knesset, and to return to his private law practice.

Dan Meridor's brother, Salai, was chairman of the Jewish Agency.


S. Ben-Porat, Siḥot Im Dan Meridor (1997).

[Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)]