Yitzhak Rabin

Yitzhak Rabin Biography

Prime Minister (1922–1995)
Yitzhak Rabin was a Nobel Peace Prize-winning political leader who served as prime minister of Israel during the mid-1970s and mid-'90s.


Born on March 1, 1922, in Jerusalem, Mandatory Palestine (since 1948, Israel), Yitzhak Rabin served as Israel's military chief of staff before becoming the country's first native-born prime minister in 1974. He reclaimed the post in the 1992 elections, and then became known for his historical peace negotiations with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. Rabin was killed by an extremist on November 4, 1995, in Tel Aviv.

Background and Early Career

Future Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was born on March 1, 1922, in Jerusalem. He had ambitions of becoming an agronomist and was a lauded student at Kadourie Agricultural School, but instead joined the Palmach, a Jewish underground commando unit, during World War II.

Though allied with the British during the war, Rabin was captured and imprisoned for several months during the mid-1940s for activities against British interests. He later fought in the Arab-Israeli War (1948-49) and was a representative at the Israeli-Egyptian armistice talks at Rhodes.

In the summer of 1948, Rabin wed Leah Schlossberg; the couple would have two children.

Military Leader

During the 1950s, Rabin ascended Israel's military ladder and also attended the British Staff College. By 1964, he had become chief of staff of the army. Though he suffered from a breakdown due to a forceful admonishment from David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, Rabin had shaped and organized the country's military to win the Six-Day War of 1967, taking over Arab territories. He retired from the army later that year to become ambassador to the United States, often conferring with Henry Kissinger.

Becomes Prime Minister

Rabin entered domestic politics and became part of his country's Labor Party, which won re-election in December 1973 after the Yom Kippur War. Rabin had been appointed minister of labor, but that changed when Prime Minister Golda Meir resigned after only a month. Rabin was charged with forming a new government and became prime minister of the country in June 1974. At the age of 52, he was the youngest person and the first native-born Israeli to hold the position.

Rabin endured a turbulent time in office that included an oil embargo, a plane hijacking by terrorists, post-war economic challenges and strained dialogue with Kissinger. In 1977, Rabin was forced to resign from his position due to him and his wife having a U.S. bank account, which violated Israeli currency statutes. (The laws were done away with shortly after Rabin stepped down.)

In 1979, the politician published his autobiography, The Rabin Memoirs.

Historic Peace Agreements

By the mid-1980s, Rabin had returned to political leadership as minister of defense of a Labor-Likud coalition, working with Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Rabin succeeded in reclaiming party leadership and regained the post of prime minister once Labor won the June 1992 elections.

In 1993, Rabin negotiated the Israel-PLO accords with Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat, with the aim of sanctioning Israel's withdrawal from occupied territories and the hope of ending conflict between the two groups. In October 1994, Rabin also signed a peace treaty with King Hussein bin Talal of Jordan following secret negotiations. In December of that year, Rabin was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Arafat and Peres, who was serving as Israel's foreign minister at the time.

On November 4, 1995, after speaking at a Tel Aviv peace rally, Rabin was gunned down and killed by Yigal Amir, an Israeli law student and right-wing extremist. Leah Rabin posthumously published the book Rabin: Our Life, His Legacy in 1997.

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