Shem-Tov, Victor

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SHEM-TOV, VICTOR (1915– ), Israeli politician, member of the Fifth, Sixth, Tenth, and Eleventh Knessets. Shem-Tov was born in the town of Samokov, Bulgaria. As a youth he was a member of the Maccabi ha-Ẓa'ir youth movement. He attended high school in Sofia, and in 1939, before immigrating to Palestine, joined the Socialist League. In 1946 he was elected, on behalf of Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir, to the Jerusalem Workers Council. In 1948–49 he was in charge of *Histadrut absorption programs during the years of mass immigration. In 1949–50 he served as chairman of the Bulgarian Immigrants' Association in Jerusalem, and as a member of *Mapam's Central Committee. He was elected to the Fifth Knesset in 1961, and represented Mapam in the Knesset Finance Committee. In 1961 he also became a member of the Histadrut Executive. In 1969, even though he was not elected to the Seventh Knesset, Shem-Tov became the first Mapam minister that was not a kibbutz member, being appointed as minister without portfolio in the government formed by Golda *Meir after the elections. In July 1970, after the *Likud left the coalition, he was appointed minister of health, in which position he introduced a National Health Insurance Bill that failed to pass. He continued to serve as minister of health in the Eighth Knesset, even though once again he was not an mk. In 1974, together with Minister of Transportation Aharon Yariv, Shem-Tov presented to Golda Meir's government a document containing what came to be known as the Yariv–Shem-Tov formula, that defined the Arab negotiating partners with whom Israel would be willing to negotiate a peace agreement. The document was published by Shem-Tov during a visit to Washington. It stated that the State of Israel would conduct peace negotiations with Jordan and with any Palestinian body that would recognize Israel's right to exist, would be willing to live in peace with it, and would refrain from committing acts of terror. The formula was once again presented in the government of Yitzhak *Rabin but was not brought to the vote, because it was supported by only five ministers. However, the formula was not rejected. In 1979–85 he served as secretary general of Mapam. Shem-Tov was elected to the Tenth Knesset in 1981 and the Eleventh in 1984, and supported Mapam's decision to leave the Alignment with the *Israel Labor Party after Labor decided to enter a National Unity Government with the Likud.

[Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)]