Avi Dichter (Template:Lang-he, Template:IPA-he; born 4 December 1952) is an Israeli politician. A former Minister of Internal Security and Shin Bet director, he resigned from the Knesset and left Kadima in August 2012 in order to become Minister of Home Front Defence.
Early and personal life[edit | edit source]
Born in Ashkelon, Dichter's parents were Holocaust survivors. As an adolescent, he joined Hashomer Hatzair, the oldest Zionist youth movement still functioning. After graduating high school (where he met his wife Ilana, with whom he has three children), Dichter was selected to serve in the elite unit of the Israel Defense Forces, Sayeret Matkal, under then Commander Ehud Barak. Upon completing his military service, Dichter joined Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, in 1974 where he advanced to eventually become its Director in 2000.
Shin Bet[edit | edit source]
He began his career in Shin Bet as a sky marshal for El Al. After becoming proficient in Arabic and completing field intelligence courses, he began working in the Shin Bet's Southern District—specifically in the Gaza Strip. In 1986 he gained a BA in Social Science from Bar-Ilan University. In 1992, he was appointed as Director for the region. The targeted killing of Hamas operative Yahya Ayyash—known as "The Engineer"—took place under Dichter's leadership. The assassination of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 shed light on Shin Bet's shortcomings. Aiming to improve the Shin Bet's protection capabilities, Dichter was appointed Director of the Security and Protection Division. In 1999, he became Deputy Director of Shin Bet, and gained an Executive MBA from Tel Aviv University. One year later, Prime Minister Ehud Barak promoted Dichter to director.
During his tenure as director, the Palestinians launched the al-Aqsa Intifada. Under Dichter's leadership, Shin Bet changed its modus operandi and restructured its mission and duties to serve at the forefront of Israel's security and counter-terrorism efforts. The organisation spearheaded counter-insurgency and intelligence operations deep inside the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In doing so, the Shin Bet is credited with drastically reducing the number of attacks perpetrated against Israel during this time as well as helping to restore safety and positive morale to the Israeli public. Another one of Dichter's successful initiatives included envisioning and planning with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon the West Bank barrier.
Political career[edit | edit source]
In September 2005, Dichter left office and became a research fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. Several months later, he returned to Israel and announced his foray into politics with the newly established Kadima. He was elected to the Knesset on the party's list in 2006, and on May 4 that year was sworn in as the Minister of Internal Security. In this role, he oversaw Israel's law enforcement system including Israel's Police Force and Prison Service.
As Minister of Public Security, Dichter made several reforms in the fields under the auspices of the ministry. These included budgetary and organizational reform, the building of a Witness Protection Program, and the formation of a national crime fighting unit (Lahav 433) similar to the United States' FBI. In 2007 Dichter canceled a trip to the UK over concerns that he would be arrested for war crimes in relation with the killing of wife and three children of then Hamas's military leader Salah Shehade.
After Ehud Olmert resigned as party leader, Dichter entered the leadership election. However, he came fourth with only 6.5% of the vote. He retained his seat in the 2009 elections after being placed ninth on the party's list, but lost his cabinet portfolio as the Likud-led coalition formed the government.
In Matar v. Dichter, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a federal class action lawsuit against Dichter on behalf of the Palestinians killed or injured in a 2002 "targeted killing" air strike in Gaza. It charged him with extrajudicial killing, war crimes and other gross human rights violations. On 16 April 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the case against Dichter, on the basis that Dichter possesses immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). In 2007 he canceled a visit to the UK for fear he would be arrested on war crime charges.
In March 2009 Dichter signed a number of injunctions banning a series of events titled "Jerusalem, the capital of Arab culture" scheduled to be held under the auspices and sponsored by the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem, Nazareth and other parts of the country. Holding these events, according to Dichter, would be in violation of an Israeli–Palestinian treaty barring PA events on Israel territory. Nazareth Mayor Ramiz Jeraisi criticized the move as anti-Arab and compared Dichter to Avigdor Lieberman. Acting on Dichter's orders, eight events were shuttered and at least twenty organizers and participants detained.
On 3 August 2011, Dichter filed, together with another 39 Knesset members, the proposed Basic Law proposal: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People which seeks to determine the nature of the state of Israel as the Jewish people, and as such it interprets the term "Jewish and democratic state" which appears in the Israeli basic laws Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation and Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. According to the proposal, Israel will be defined as the nation state of the Jewish people, and in order to prevent Israel from becoming a Binational state, the proposal says that the right to self-determination in Israel would be unique to the Jewish people. The proposal also states that the state of Israel should establish ethnic communities where every resident can preserve its culture and heritage, that the Hebrew language would be considered the only official language of the state of Israel (while the Arabic language would be of a special status), that the Hebrew calendar would become the official calendar of the state of Israel, and that the Hebrew law would serve as an inspiration to Israeli legislators. The bill is currently in early legislative stages and still has not passed a preliminary reading.
In August 2012, at the request of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Avi Dichter announced that he would leave the Knesset and join the Israeli cabinet to replace Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i, who resigned to become Israel's ambassador to China. Dichter would also quit Kadima, and likely run in the Independence or Likud list in subsequent elections. Dichter's seat in the Knesset will be replaced by Kadima's Ahmed Dabbah.
References[edit | edit source]
- Ravid, Barak. "Haaretz.com,Dichter cancels U.K. trip over fears of 'war crimes' arrest". Haaretz. Israel. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/931835.html. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
- "ccrjustice.org, Matar et al v Dichter". Ccrjustice.org. Archived from the original on May 20, 2010. http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/matar-v.-dichter. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
- "Israeli avoids UK arrest threat". BBC News. December 6, 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7130594.stm.
- "Israel bans Palestinian cultural events". Yedioth Ahronot. Israel. March 20, 2009. Archived from the original on March 23, 2009. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3689673,00.html. Retrieved March 22, 2009.
- Police arrest 20 at Palestinian 'culture event'. Yedioth Ahronot. March 21, 2009
- "Kadima's Dichter to quit Knesset for cabinet post". The Jerusalem Post. 14 August 2012. http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=281145. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- Lahav Harkov (14 August 2012). "MK Hasson: Dichter was Kadima's Trojan horse". The Jerusalem Post. http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=281182. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
[edit | edit source]
- Official website
- Avi Dichter on Twitter
- Avi Dichter Ministry of Public Security
- Avi Dichter IMEU