Sheetrit, Meir

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SHEETRIT, MEIR (1948– ), Israeli politician, member of the Tenth and Eleventh Knesset, and then again from the Thirteenth Knesset. Sheetrit was born in Ksar a-Suk, Morocco, to a family of rabbis. He immigrated to Israel with his family in 1957. At first the family settled in the development town of Netivot, but later moved to Yavneh. He studied at the Givat Washington High School and in Kefar Batyah. He enlisted in the army in 1968, and was discharged from the medical corps with the rank of captain in 1973. Sheetrit had started studying microbiology and biochemistry at Bar-Ilan University in 1964, before his military service. He received his master's degree in public administration from the same university. He joined the Likud and ran on its ticket in the elections for mayor of Yavneh in 1974, after being rejected by the Labor Party. At the age of 25 he was elected as mayor of Yavneh, serving in this position until 1987. In 1986 he received the prestigious Local Government Prize, the Education Prize, and the Quality of Life Prize from the president of the State. He was first elected to the Tenth Knesset on the Likud list in 1981, serving in a variety of Knesset committees, including the Finance Committee. He was elected treasurer of the Jewish Agency and Zionist Organization, in which capacity he served in 1988–92. In the course of his service as treasurer he was accused of fraud and breach of trust and put on trial, but was completely exonerated. Sheetrit did not serve in the Twelfth Knesset but ran once again in the elections to the Thirteenth Knesset, and after the Likud's bitter defeat in these elections, considered contesting the Likud leadership. However, due to the fatal illness of his daughter he decided to withdraw from the contest. In the Thirteenth Knesset, in addition to chairing the sub-committee for Higher Education in the Education and Culture Committee, he served as chairman of the Knesset computerization committee. In the Fourteenth Knesset he served as chairman of the Likud parliamentary group and chairman of the coalition, and as deputy speaker, until being appointed minister of finance in February 1999, after the resignation of Ya'akov Ne'eman from the post, and three months before the elections to the Fifteenth Knesset. In the Fifteenth Knesset, he was appointed minister of justice in the government formed by Ariel *Sharon in March 2001, even though he had hoped to receive the Education and Culture portfolio. In the government formed by Sharon after the elections to the Sixteenth Knesset he served as minister in the Ministry of Finance, under Binyamin *Netanyahu, and after the resignation of Avigdor Lieberman of the National Union in July 2004, started serving as minister of transportation. In September he was appointed as the liaison minister between the government and the Knesset. He was one of the proponents within the Likud for bringing the *Israel Labor Party into the government, and was a supporter of the disengagement plan. In late 2005 he followed Sharon out of the Likud to form the new Kadimah Party.

He was a member of the board of trustees of the University of Ben-Gurion in Beersheba, and of the Open University, and a member of the Executive of Bar-Ilan University.