Yitzhak Mordechai was born in 1944, in Iraq. He immigrated to Israel at the age of five.
He served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for 33 years (1962-95), most of them as a paratrooper. He graduated the Staff and Command Colleges in Israel and in Cambridge, England. In addition, he holds a B.A. in history from Tel-Aviv University, and an M.A. in political science from Haifa University.
During the 1967 Six Day War, Mordechai commanded a paratroop unit in the Sinai. In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, he was commander of a paratroop battalion on the Suez Canal front, and was awarded the Medal of Valor. In 1983-86 he served as Chief Infantry and Paratroopers Officer. In 1986 he was appointed Head of the IDF HQ Training Department and was promoted to the rank of Major General. In August 1986 he was appointed Officer in Command of the IDF Southern Command, in 1989 of the Central Command, and in 1991 of the Northern Command. He is the only general to ever hold all three posts and aspired to be chief of staff, but was passed over. He retired from IDF service in October 1995 with the rank of Major General.
Joining the Likud party after his retirement from the army, he was elected to the Knesset in May 1996.
In June 1996, Yitzhak Mordechai was appointed Minister of Defense. He was fired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in early 1999 when it became clear that Mordechai was planning to join a new centrist party. Mordechai did join the party, and became its candidate for Prime Minister in the May 1999 elections. He withdrew just before the election when it was clear he would lose.
He was re-elected to the 15th Knesset in May 1999 as head of the new Center Party.
In July 1999 he was appointed Minister of Transport and Deputy Prime Minister. He resigned after being accused of sexual assault. In March 2001, he was convicted of sexually assaulting and harassing two women and was given an 18-month suspended sentence.
Mordechai, the father of three, is divorced.
Sources: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs