RAMON, HAIM

RAMON, HAIM (1950– ), Israeli politician, member of the Knesset from the Tenth Knesset. Ramon was born in Jaffa. He served in the air force in the years 1967–73 and received a law degree from Tel Aviv University. He started his political life as national secretary of the israel labor party Young Guard in 1978, serving in this capacity until 1984. He first entered the Knesset in 1983, replacing MK Danny Rosolio, who resigned. In the course of the Eleventh Knesset he was the Labor Alignment's coordinator in the Knesset Finance Committee, and in the course of the Twelfth Knesset served as chairman of the Labor parliamentary group. In 1985 he established together with Nissim Zvili the Kefar ha-Yarok circle – a dovish political group made up of younger members of the Labor Party that succeeded in getting several members into the Twelfth Knesset. It was generally believed at the time that some of Labor's future leaders would emerge from this circle, but in 2005 Ramon and amir peretz were the only two members of this group still in the Knesset. In March 1990 Ramon was actively involved, in full coordination with Labor Party chairman shimon peres , and in consultation with his friend aryeh deri from Shas, in the plan to bring down the National Unity Government headed by Yitzhak shamir , of which the Labor Party was a member, in a vote on a motion of no confidence. However, Peres failed to form an alternative government. Prior to the fifth Labor Party Conference, at the end of 1991, Ramon considered leaving the Labor Party and forming a joint dovish party with the CRM, Mapam and Shinui. However, in light of his success, together with some of his colleagues, in getting the Conference to adopt many of their positions in connection with the peace process and religion and state, he decided to remain. In the primaries for the elections of Labor's leader in February 1992 Ramon supported Yitzhak rabin rather than Peres, and in the government formed by Rabin in July he was appointed minister of health. In this position he started, much to the chagrin of many of his Labor colleagues, to prepare a National Health Insurance bill that would, inter alia, break the link between the histadrut and Israel's largest health fund, Kuppat Ḥolim Kelalit. Ramon supported the candidature of Amir Peretz as Labor's candidate in the election for secretary general of the Histadrut against that of Haim Haberfeld, and when Peretz failed, stood himself for election against Haberfeld at the head of his own list, called Ḥayyim Ḥadashim la-Histadrut. Before deciding to run, Ramon gave a well-publicized speech at a special session of the Labor Party Conference in which he compared the party to a whale swimming towards the beach to its death, arguing that with his meager power he was trying to push the party back into the living water. Several days later he resigned from the government. As a result of his decision to run against the Labor candidate for the Histadrut, he was removed from the party, but nevertheless remained part of the Labor parliamentary group. In May 1994 Ramon was elected secretary general of the Histadrut, and changed his title to chairman. He set off immediately to make drastic organizational and functional changes in the bankrupt Histadrut, and managed to enact the National Health Insurance Law. Before Rabin's assassination in November 1995 Ramon was reinstated in the party, and was invited by Rabin to return to the government. However, it was only in December that he entered the government formed by Peres, as minister of the interior, and Peretz took over the leadership of the Histadrut. Ramon was in charge of Labor's propaganda strategy in the elections to the Fourteenth Knesset, and was largely responsible for the decision to minimize mention of the Likud's role in creating the atmosphere that led up to Rabin's assassination. He was thus blamed by many Laborites for Labor's defeat in the elections, in which binyamin netanyahu beat Peres by only 30,000 votes. Ramon considered running against ehud barak in the primaries for the Labor Party leadership in June 1997, but when his proposal that open primaries be held, rather than primaries among Labor Party members only, was rejected, he decided not to run. In the government formed by Barak after the elections to the Fifteenth Knesset Ramon was appointed minister in the Prime Minister's office. He was not a member of the National Unity Government formed by ariel sharon after he defeated Barak in the election for prime minister in 2001. In 2004–5 Ramon played an active role in the negotiations for the formation of a new National Unity Government, after the government formed by Sharon following the 2003 elections disintegrated against the background of his disengagement plan. However, after doing poorly in the vote that   took place in the Labor Party Central Committee for ministerial posts in the new government formed in January 2005, he was appointed minister without portfolio. At the end of 2005, when Sharon left the Likud and formed the new Kadimah Party, Ramon left the Labor Party to join him, along with Shimon Peres and others. After the 2006 elections he was appointed minister of justice. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Barzilai, Ramon: Biographia Politit (1996).

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Ramon, Haim — (1950 )    Born in Tel Aviv to Sephardic immigrants (see ALIYA; ORIENTAL JEWS) from Morocco, he was educated at Tel Aviv University as a lawyer. He was first elected to the Knesset on the Labor Party list in 1983. He served as minister of health… …   Historical Dictionary of Israel

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