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Former Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer Dies at 80

  • Ken Schwartz

FILE - Former Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer.

FILE - Former Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer.

Former Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, regarded as a key liaison between Israel and Arab speaking countries, died Sunday after a long illness.

He was 80 years old.

Ben-Eliezer was born in Iraq, moved to the newly founded Jewish state as a teenager and soon joined the army.

He was a commanding general during two of the most critical periods in Israeli history -- the Six-Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

Ben-Eliezer also was a veteran Labor Party politician and his good relations with former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and other Arab leaders led to a more moderate diplomatic atmosphere between Israel and some of its neighbors.

Ben-Eliezer was Israeli Defense Minister during the second Palestinian uprising in 2001 and 2002.

He spent the last two years in poor health and fighting charges of bribery, money laundering and tax fraud.

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