Yuval Steinitz

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Yuval Steinitz
Munich Security Conference 2015 by Olaf Kosinsky-446.jpg
Date of birth (1958-04-10) 10 April 1958 (age 66)
Place of birth Ramot HaShavim, Israel
Knessets 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20
Faction represented in Knesset
1999– Likud
Ministerial roles
2009–2013 Minister of Finance
2013–2015 Minister of Intelligence
2013–2015 Minister of International Relations
2013–2015 Minister of Strategic Affairs
2015– Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy & Water Resources

Yuval Steinitz (Hebrew: יובל שטייניץ‎; born 10 April 1958) is an Israeli politician who currently serves as a member of the Knesset for Likud and as Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources. He has held several other ministerial posts, including Minister of Finance, Minister of Intelligence, Minister of International Relations and Minister of Strategic Affairs.


Yuval Steinitz was born and raised on Moshav Ramot HaShavim. He studied in the biology track at Katznelson High School in Kfar Saba. He was expelled for refusing to sign a letter promising to stop his argumentative behavior in class,[1] and completed his bagrut (baccalaureate high school degree) externally. He did his army service as an infantry soldier in the Golani Brigade of the Israeli Defense Forces. Steinitz sustained a leg injury during a battle with the Syrian Army near Beirut in the 1982 Lebanon War.[2] He studied for a BA and MA in philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.[1]

Steinitz is married to Gila Kanfy-Steinitz, a judge on the Jerusalem District Court.[3] They have three children and live in Mevaseret Zion.[1]

Academic career

His doctoral thesis, entitled From A Rational Point of View was completed at the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University. Steinitz was awarded the Alon Scholarship for his work. He continued his research at the University of Haifa, where he worked as a senior lecturer until entering the Knesset in 1999. While at Haifa University, Steinitz published articles on military strategy and tactics in various periodicals, including the IDF journal Marachot. At the age of 29, he published his book Invitation to Philosophy, which became the best-selling philosophy text in Israel and was reprinted 40 times.[1]

Political career

Steinitz's political involvement began in the 1980s when he joined Peace Now. He was injured during a rally in Jerusalem in 1983, when a right-wing extremist hurled a hand-grenade into the crowd, killing peace activist Emil Grunzweig.[1]

However, his objections to the Oslo Accords led him into the Likud camp.[citation needed] In the 1999 elections he was twentieth on the Likud list, but the party won only 19 seats. When Netanyahu resigned in the wake of his electoral defeat, Steinitz replaced him as next in line. During his first term in the Knesset, Steinitz served as chairman of the Subcommittee for Defense, Planning and Policy, and a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Constitution Law and Courts Committee.

After retaining his seat in the 2003 elections, he was elected to chair the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, turning it into one of the most serious and influential bodies in the Knesset.[4] During his second term, he also chaired the Subcommittee for Intelligence and Secret Services, the Committee for the examination of the Intelligence Services Following the War in Iraq, and co-chaired the Joint Security Committee Between the Knesset and the US Congress, alongside American Senator Jon Kyl.[5]

After re-election in 2006, he continued to co-chair the Joint Security Committee Between the Knesset and the US Congress, and also chaired the Subcommittee for the State of Alert and Field Security and the Sub-Committee on Intelligence & Secret Services, whilst continuing to be a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Law and Courts Committee.

He retained his seat in the 2009 elections after winning ninth place on the Likud list, and was appointed Minister of Finance in Benjamin Netanyahu's government.[6] He was the first Finance Minister of Israel to submit to the Knesset a two-year budget, instead of the until-then customary one-year budget. This move generated some controversy, with some accusing it of decreasing government transparency[7] and others praising it for its greater efficiency.[8]

In 2012 media reports alleged that Steinitz was attempting to create friction between Netanyahu and Barak.[9]

Prior to the 2013 elections Steinitz was placed 24th on the joint Likud Yisrael Beiteinu list, which won 31 seats. He was replaced as Minister of Finance by Yair Lapid, but became Minister of Intelligence, Minister of International Relations and Minister of Strategic Affairs in the new government. He was re-elected again in 2015 after being placed 13th on the Likud list, and was appointed Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources in the new government.


Steinitz supported the disengagement plan in 2005, but criticized its implementation. He was particularly concerned about the IDF's intention to transfer the Philadelphi Route, a strategic buffer zone between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, to the Egyptians. He claimed that Egypt would not stop the arms smuggling by Palestinian terrorist groups.[10]

He has campaigned for heightened awareness of the Iranian nuclear threat, lobbying at home and abroad to ensure that Iran does not become a nuclear power.[11]

In 2008, when Israel refused permission for Palestinian Fulbright students to leave Gaza and study in the United States, Steinitz supported this action. He told the New York Times: “We are fighting the regime in Gaza that does its utmost to kill our citizens and destroy our schools and our colleges. So I don’t think we should allow students from Gaza to go anywhere. Gaza is under siege, and rightly so, and it is up to the Gazans to change the regime or its behavior.”[12] Steinitz was against releasing terrorists convicted of murder in a prisoner exchange deal for Gilad Shalit.[1] He disagreed with former Governor of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fischer, on various issues, and has a complicated relationship with Netanyahu, who bypassed him several times in his first year in office.[1]

In June 2013, when Austria planned to withdraw its UN-Troops (stationary since 1974) from the Golan Heights, Yuval Steinitz issued a statement expressing regret at the Austrian move, adding that the lesson for Israel was clear: “Even as part of peace agreements, Israel cannot place its security in the hands of international forces instead of relying on the presence of IDF soldiers.”[citation needed]

In December 2015, after the assassination of Samir Kuntar, he claimed in the newspaper Hareetz that the Finnish Intelligence services was perhaps behind this affair.[13][14] After contact from the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, Hareetz claimed that it was a joke, putting to serious threat Israel's foreign policy.[15]


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