David Levy is an Israeli politician who served in a number of ministerial roles in the Israeli Cabinet.
Levy (born December 21, 1937) was born in Morocco and immigrated with his family to Israel in 1957. His first jobs were planting trees for the Jewish National Fund. He also picked cotton on a kibbutz, where he organized a strike protesting the dirty drinking water supplied to laborers. This was his first political act.
In 1965, Levy won his first election, to Beit Shean’s Local Council. He quit his job as a construction worker, even though the pay was higher, to devote all his energy to the Council. Levy worked his way through the political ranks, joining Menachem Begin’s Herut Party and winning his first Knesset seat in 1969.
When Begin became Prime Minister, Levy served as Minister of Absorption, then Housing and ultimately Deputy Premier. As Housing Minister, Levy made his first real mark on the national stage. For example, he took steps to change the structure of housing loans to make it possible for eligible persons to get government help toward buying an apartment. While pushing for better housing, Levy also criticized those who turned to crime and violence in depressed areas.
Levy was considered a moderate within the Likud because of his opposition to Ariel Sharon’s conduct of the Lebanon war. During the years of the unity government; however, Levy developed a reputation as a hawk because he advised Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to take a tough line in peace negotiations. He did not make a significant impression on Americans during his stint as Foreign Minister under Shamir because he was not the country’s principal spokesman and did not speak English.
When Benjamin Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister, Levy was again chosen to serve as Foreign Minister. He resigned in January 1998 because of dissatisfaction with budget allocations for the poor and policies related to the peace process.
In 1999, Levy joined the One Israel Party and was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister under Ehud Barak. In 2001, he left One Israel to join the Gesher Party and was again re-elected to the Knesset. In 2002, he was appointed as a Minister without Portfolio in the government of Ariel Sharon. In 2003, Levy against switched parties, this time moving back to Likud. He lost his seat in the Knesset in 2006.