KATZAV, MOSHE

KATZAV, MOSHE (1945– ), eighth president of the State of Israel, member of the Ninth to Fifteenth Knessets. Katzav was born in Yazd in Iran. At the age of one Katzav's family moved to Teheran, and five years later the family immigrated to Israel; after a short sojourn in the Sha'ar ha-Aliyah immigration center in Haifa, the family was sent to the Kastina ma'barah near Be'er Toviyyah – today Kiryat Malakhi. In the floods of 1951 Katzav was moved to Kefar Bilu, without his family's knowledge. The family's housing conditions gradually improved from a tent to a hut, and finally to a small apartment. As a boy Katzav visited the residence of President yitzhak ben-zvi , together with other children from ma'barot who excelled in reading. Katzav studied at the youth village of Ben-Shemen and later went to high school at Be'er Toviyyah. During his military service in the Communications Corps, he helped support his family in construction jobs. After completing his military service he worked as a clerk in Bank Hapoalim, and as an assistant in the Vulcani Institute for Agricultural Research. At the same time he started to work as a reporter for Yedioth Aḥaronoth and served as president of B'nai B'rith Youth. He was the first student from Kiryat Malakhi at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he started to study in 1968, after saving money to finance his studies. At the university he was head of the Gaḥal students cell. He received his B.A. in economics and history in 1971. While still a student he began teaching history and mathematics at high school, and in 1969, at the age of 24, was elected head of the local council of Kiryat Malakhi, at the head of a coalition that included Gaḥal and the national religious party . However, after several months repeat elections were held, and he lost his majority in the Council. He was reelected head of the local council on behalf of the Likud and served in this position in the 1976–81 term – in the first two years on the basis of a rotation agreement with the Alignment. Katzav served as a reservist in both the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War. In 1977 he was elected to the Ninth Knesset on behalf of the Likud, and served in the Knesset until he was elected president of the State in 2003. In the course of the Ninth Knesset, before the rise of the Ayatollah Homeini to power, he was sent twice on missions on behalf of Prime Minister Menaḥem Begin to Iran, to encourage the Jews to immigrate to Israel. In the Tenth Knesset he served as deputy minister of construction and housing, responsible on behalf of the government for project renewal . In the National Unity Government of 1984–88 he served as minister of labor and welfare, and in 1988–92 as minister of transportation. In the opposition in 1992–96 he served as chairman of the Likud parliamentary   group, and in the government formed by binyamin netanyahu he served as deputy prime minister and minister of tourism in 1996–99. Among the various public posts he filled over the years was chairman of the roof organization of the immigrants from Iran, chairman of the Committee to Determine Salaries in Institutions for Higher Education, and member of the Board of Trustees of Ben-Gurion University. After ezer weizman resigned as president in 2000, Katzav contended for the position opposite shimon peres , and against all odds was elected as Israel's eighth president. He was the second Sephardi to be elected to the post (itzhak navon had been the first), and the first president to have been born in a Muslim state. As president, Katzav did his best to serve as a moderating and unifying figure, and unlike his predecessor avoided provocative statements. He has paid numerous state visits abroad and received several honorary doctorates. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: M, Michaelson, Moshe KatzavMima'aberet Kastina le-Kiryat ha-Memshalah (1992). (Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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