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Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
Obituary: Rehavam Zeevi
Rehavam Zeevi, left, and Avigdor Lieberman
Zeevi (left) resigned the cabinet on Monday with fellow hawk Lieberman
Rehavam Ze'evi was a highly controversial politician, even by the standards of Israel where the politics is controversial by its very nature.

He was known as one of the most hardline politicians in the country - an advocate of deporting Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza to Arab countries.

His assassination came on the very day he was due to leave the cabinet, after tendering his resignation as tourism minister two days earlier.

Typically, it was not an issue involving tourism - about which he rarely spoke - which triggered the resignation, but over his brand of hardline, ultra-nationalist policies towards Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Along with ally Avigdor Lieberman of Israel Beitenu, he resigned in protest at Israel's withdrawal from parts of Hebron and plans to reduce a blockade against Palestinians.

Military man

Like many Israeli politicians, the 75-year-old Zeevi had a long and successful career in the Israeli army, rising to the position of general in charge of the central region, including the West Bank.

Zeevi (left) shakes hands with Sharon (right)
Mr Zeevi (left) represented the extreme right in the Sharon cabinet
He left the army in 1974, entering politics initially as counter-terrorism adviser to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin - who also died by an assassins bullet in six years ago. He found his own party, Moledet (Homeland) later renamed the National Union party, in 1988, .

Rehavam Zeevi gained notoriety for comparing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to Adolf Hitler and for his policy of "transferring", or expelling, Palestinians from areas Israel seized in the 1967 war.

He also referred to some Palestinians - those working illegally in Israel - as "lice" who must be stopped like "cancer spreading within us".

During his time in the army, Rehavam Zeevi gained the nickname "Gandhi", because he was very thin and used to shave his head.

The hair may have grown back and the frame thickened - but the nickname stuck, an ironic tribute to his far-from-Ghandi-like politics.

He joined Ariel Sharon's coalition government earlier this year as minister of tourism.

He spent much of his time calling for tough measures against Palestinians, which brought him into conflict with more moderate figures in the cabinet.

This conflict peaked just a few days ago when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to pull Israeli forces out of Palestinian neighbourhoods in the West Bank city of Hebron.

See also:

17 Oct 01 | Middle East
Israeli minister shot dead
08 Mar 01 | Middle East
Spotlight on Israeli cabinet
15 Oct 01 | Middle East
Israeli army pulls out of Hebron
05 Oct 01 | Middle East
Israeli army seizes Hebron hilltop
03 Oct 01 | Middle East
Q&A: Mid-East violence surges
16 Jul 01 | Middle East
Hebron: City of strife
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