Shahal (Fatal), Moshe

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SHAHAL (Fatal), MOSHE (1934– ), Israeli politician and attorney, member of the Seventh to Fourteenth Knessets. Born in Baghdad, Shahal grew up in a traditional middle class family and attended an English school. At the age of 12 he first read Karl Marx's Capital, which greatly influenced his way of thinking. In 1950 he immigrated to Israel with his family, which lived at first in transit camps (ma'barot) in Beit Lid and Ashkelon. He settled in Haifa in the late 1950s. As a member of the ruling *Mapai, Shahal was involved in efforts to quell the Wadi Salib riots, organized by militants of Oriental origin against the background of claims of discrimination that broke out in July 1959. Shahal was a member of the Haifa Labor Council in 1959–71, and a member of its secretariat in 1964–71. He was a member of the Haifa Municipal Council in 1965–69.

In 1964 he studied economics, sociology, and political science at Haifa University, and then continued his studies for a law degree at Tel Aviv University, which he received in 1969. In 1970 he became a partner in the Ben-Israel & Shahal law firm, in which he remained until 1983, then joining the Solomon & Lifshitz firm where he remained for a year.

Shahal entered the Seventh Knesset in 1971, and soon turned into an expert on the Knesset Rules of Procedure. He became a member of numerous Knesset Committees, but was especially active in the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, and the Finance Committee. In 1974–76, during the term of the Eighth Knesset, he served as chairman of the Israeli Consumers Council, and was a member of the Knesset delegation to the Council of Europe. In the Ninth and Tenth Knessets he was chairman of the Alignment parliamentary group, and a member of the Knesset delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union. In the Tenth Knesset he served as deputy speaker.

Shahal was one of the chief negotiators of the coalition agreement between the *Israel Labor Party and the *Likud in 1984, which culminated in the establishment of a National Unity Government based on parity and with rotation in the premiership. He was then one of the initiators of the Arrangements Law that accompanied the Economic Stabilization Plan of 1985, which was designed to save the Israeli economy from a catastrophe. In the National Unity Governments of 1984–90 Shahal served as minister of energy and infrastructure, playing an active role in numerous ministerial committees, as he was to continue to do in future governments of which he was a member. In 1987 he met with the Iraqi ambassador in Washington in an effort to open a channel of communication with Iraq. In 1988–90 Shahal acted as liaison minister between the government and the Knesset. After Peres failed to form a government following Labor's departure from the National Unity Government in March 1990, he joined the Zadok, Stricks, Shahal & Co. law firm in Tel Aviv, but left the partnership after the Labor electoral victory in the elections to the Thirteenth Knesset. In the beginning of 1992, before the elections, Shahal considered contesting the Labor leadership, but finally decided not to participate in the contest that was won by Yitzhak *Rabin. In the government formed by Rabin after the elections, Shahal was first appointed minister of communications, but then returned to the ministry of energy and infrastructure, and also served as minister of police. In 1994 he once again became the liaison minister between the government and the Knesset. Shahal was a member of the ministerial teams that dealt both with the Palestinian and the Syrian issues. Though he was never considered a dove, he was known for his pragmatic approach. Already in 1995 he raised the idea that Israel should defend itself against Palestinian terrorist attacks by constructing a fence between itself and the territories handed over to the Palestinians. In the field of energy he supported cooperation with Israel's neighbors – especially Egypt and Jordan. In the government formed by Shimon *Peres after Rabin's assassination in November 1995 he was appointed minister of internal security.

In the course of the Fourteenth Knesset Shahal participated in a meeting with the Follow-Up Committee of Israeli Arabs, to discuss ways of saving the peace process following the Likud victory in the elections to the Fourteenth Knesset. He resigned from the Knesset in March 1998, and opened his own law firm in Tel Aviv but continued to play an active role in the Israel Labor Party. One of the subjects he continued to deal with in his professional capacity as an attorney was the Israeli energy market, which he had helped to reshape as minister of energy and infrastructure.

[Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)]