Dan Meridor was born in Jerusalem in 1947. His father, Eliahu Meridor, served in the Fourth to Sixth Knessets on the Herut and Gahal lists. Meridor went to school in Jerusalem and finished the Hebrew Gymnasium High School in 1965. He served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a tank commander in the 1967 Six-Day War and continued in the IDF reserves as a Captain. Afterward, he studied law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After completing his degree he practiced law from 1973-82.
In 1973 he joined the Herut Executive, where he was viewed as one of the
Herut princes – sons of the movement's founders.
After the 1977 elections, he was offered several positions in the government but rejected them all. During Operation Peace for Galilee, after the resignation of Arie Na'or as government secretary, Meridor was appointed in his place. He served in this position under Prime Ministers Menachem Begin (1982-83) and Yitzhak Shamir (1983-84) until being elected to the Eleventh Knesset in 1984. As an MK, he was a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.
In 1988, Meridor was appointed minister of justice. In that position, Meridor took a liberal line on issues of human rights and the rule of law, actively promoting the passing of the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom, and the Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation, which were viewed as the first stage in the passing of a complete bill of human rights. Meridor also insisted that human rights and the rule of law be preserved with regard to the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the First Intifada. As a result, he gained many political enemies on the extreme right. He continued to push for the passing of additional basic laws in the field of human rights and promoted Basic Law: Legislation in the Thirteenth Knesset, when the Likud was in opposition.
Following the elections in 1996, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Meridor Minister of Finance, a position he held until his resignation in June 1997. As minister, he advocated a further liberalization of the economy, and the privatization of government-owned companies, the banks whose shares were held by the government since the 1983 bank crisis, and state lands.
Meridor resigned from the government in June 1997 after expressing his dissatisfaction with the appointment of Ronnie Bar-On as attorney general, and Netanyahu's treatment of the issue, and owing to growing tension with the governor of the Bank of Israel, Prof. Ya'akov Frankel, on his interest rate and foreign exchange policies.
In 1999, Meridor was one of several leading members of the Likud, including Yitzhak Mordechai and Roni Milo, who left the party to form the new Center Party. The new party gained six seats in the elections to the Fifteenth Knesset. Meridor was not appointed as a minister in the government formed by Ehud Barak in 1999.
In 2001, Meridor joined the government formed by Ariel Sharon as minister without portfolio. The Center Party began to disintegrate after the elections for prime minister of February 2001, and though Meridor had decided to return to the Likud, he formally remained part of the Center Party parliamentary group. Meridor lost his seat in the Knesset in c/2003-election when the Center Party did not receive enough votes.
In 2009, Meridor rejoined the Likud and was elected back to Knesset on the Likud Party list. He was subsequently appointed by Prime Minister Netanyahu as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy.
In 2013, Meridor retired from politics.
Throughout his political career, Meridor was known for his honesty, mild temper, and gentlemanly demeanor, which while gaining him a good deal of respect, also led to his being presented by satirists as a weak figure, and made it very difficult for him to contend with the new atmosphere that developed in the Likud Conference before and after the elections to the Sixteenth Knesset. As a result, he decided not to run for a place on the Likud list to the Sixteenth Knesset, and to return to his private law practice.
He is married to economist Dr. Leora Meridor. They have four children.
S. Ben-Porat, Siḥot Im Dan Meridor (1997).
Photo used with permission of the Knesset.