Milo (Milkovsky), Roni

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MILO (Milkovsky), RONI

MILO (Milkovsky), RONI (1949– ), politician, lawyer, and businessman; member of the Ninth to Thirteenth and Fifteenth Knessets. Milo was born in Tel Aviv. As a pupil in the leftist-oriented Tikhon Ḥadash high school, Milo sought to introduce the mention of Ze'ev *Jabotinsky in the curriculum, and argued in favor of the cancelation of the matriculation exams. In 1966 he was elected mayor of Ir ha-No'ar (Youth City), and got Menaḥem *Begin to help him write his inauguration speech. He studied law at Tel Aviv University and served as assistant to constitutional law professor Amnon *Rubinstein, who served at the time as dean of the Law Faculty, and like Milo was elected to the Ninth Knesset. From his student days Milo was an active member of the Ḥerut Movement. He served as chairman of the Israeli Students' Association and was one of the organizers of a students' general strike over differential tuition. He also initiated the establishment of a bureau for free legal advice for the needy and received a budget from Minister of Education Yigal *Allon to finance private lessons for needy students. After the Yom Kippur War he supported the "Temurah – Yisra'el Shelanu" Movement, which called for the resignation of the government of Golda Meir. Because of health reasons he was not mobilized for regular military service but after completing his law studies served in the army in the military attorney's office as a justice officer and military prosecutor. Following his army service he worked as an independent lawyer.

Milo was elected to the Ninth Knesset on the Likud list. In his early years in politics he was considered a firebrand and an extremist. After returning from a visit to the United States in 1978, he claimed that the *Peace Now Movement was being funded by the cia, even though its leaders might not have been aware of the fact. He nevertheless supported the peace agreement with Egypt.

In the Tenth Knesset Milo served as chairman of the Likud parliamentary group as well as chairman of the Ḥerut Movement section. He fell out with Begin after supporting the appointment of David *Levy as deputy prime minister in the government formed by him in 1981. When Begin decided to resign the premiership in October 1983, Milo supported Yitzhak *Shamir as his successor. In the National Unity governments of 1984–88, he served as deputy to Shamir, first in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and then in the Prime Minister's Office. In the National Unity government formed in 1988 he served as minister for the environment, after the new ministry was tailor-made for him. Between the fall of the government in March 1990 and the establishment of the new narrow government by Shamir in June 1990 he served as minister of labor and welfare, and in the new government was appointed minister of police, and served in the narrow cabinet. In this period he started to advocate a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, but the idea was rejected by Shamir. He also supported the idea of granting the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza autonomy, but not a state. On the eve of the German reunification, Milo demanded that Israel express its opposition to this development. When Milo was minister of police an investigation was opened against mkAryeh *Deri, and tension developed between the two. Before the elections to the Thirteenth Knesset, his name was raised as a candidate for the post of treasurer of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization, but he decided not to run. Soon after the Likud's defeat he was elected chairman of the World Likud. In September 1993 Milo was one of several Likud mks who abstained in the vote on the Declaration of Principles with the Palestinians. Soon after that vote he resigned from the Knesset to be mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, and served in that post until 1999. In September 1996 Milo met with Abu-Ma'azen, and in November with the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser *Arafat. He backed Prime Minister Binyamin *Netanyahu in the Likud Central Committee after he had met Arafat and was booed by its members. In January 1997, after the fiasco around the appointment of Ronnie Bar-On as attorney general (Bar-On resigned after one day), Netanyahu offered Milo the Justice portfolio in his government, but Milo declined. He became progressively more critical of Netanyahu's leadership, and at the end of 1997, when it was generally believed that Netanyahu would fall, registered a "shelf party" (a passive party, which could be activated at short notice). In this period he started talking to Labor politician Haim *Ramon about the possibility of establishing a new center party. In 1998 he considered running for the premiership at the head of an independent party and started to discuss the establishment of such a party with Dan *Meridor and former Chief of Staff Amnon *Lipkin-Shahak. By the end of 1998 he started to talk about the eventual establishment of a Palestinian State.

In the elections to the Fifteenth Knesset Milo was elected to the Knesset on the list of the Central Party, of which he was one of the founders. Until he joined the government formed by Ehud *Barak as minister of health in August 2000, he served on the Finance Committee, the House Committee, and the Economics Committee, and chaired the lobby for Tel Aviv-Jaffa in the Knesset. Milo joined the government formed by Ariel *Sharon in August 2001 on behalf of the Center Party as minister for regional cooperation, returning to the Likud in November 2002, after establishing a parliamentary group by the name of Ha-Lev. Milo was not elected to the Sixteenth Knesset. From November 2003 he served as chairman of the board of Azorim Investment Co. Ltd., in the idb group.

[Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)]