Photo Credit: Abir Sultan / Flash 90
Then-Justice Minister Ya'akov Ne'eman during a State Control Committee Israeli government Conclusions regarding the Attorney General strike at the Israeli Knesset on Dec. 14, 2010

Former Israeli Justice Minister Ya’akov Ne’eman has passed away at the age of 77 after struggling with a long illness.

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan described the former minister as a philanthropist and a man of compassion. He told the Hebrew-language 0404 website, “A monumental expert in the field of law, Ya’akov Ne’eman was a man of chesed (compassion) who helped and donated to public organizations in Israel.


“He was the co-chair of the public committee evaluating the issue of conversion for immigrants from the former Soviet Union. This required great sensitivity on one hand, and on the other, the deepest respect for preservation of Jewish law and for the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. May his memory be for a blessing.”

The former Justice Minister was born to a religious Zionist family in Tel Aviv during the Mandate era and maintained an observant Jewish lifestyle his entire life.

He served in the Golani Brigade during his years in the IDF, and then went on to study law at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, earning a LL.B. in 1964. One year later, he earned a LL.M. from New York University, and in 1968, a LL.D. at NYU as well.

Upon his return to Israel in 1972 he opened his own law firm together with Chaim Herzog, Israel’s future president.

In 1979, Attorney Ne’eman was appointed director-general of the Finance Ministry, serving until 1981. In 1996, he was appointed Minister of Justice by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but resigned two months later in the face of allegations that he had tried to suborn a witness in the trial of a Knesset member. He was eventually cleared of all charges and returned to the cabinet in July 1997, where he remain as Finance Minister until the end of the Netanyahu leadership in 1999. He once again was called to serve as Justice Minister in March 2009.

Ya’akov Ne’eman is survived by his wife and six children; the family home is in the Talbiyeh neighborhood of Jerusalem.

Baruch Dayan HaEmet.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.