Yitzhak Rabin was born in Jerusalem in 1922. At the age of 18 he joined the Palmach, the strike force of the Haganah, the pre-1948 defense organization of the Jewish community. He became the chief operating officer of the Palmach in October 1947 and a brigade commander during the 1948 war. Following the war, he served as a member of the Israeli delegation to the armistice talks with Egypt in Rhodes, Greece. Rabin joined the newly created Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and rose to the position of chief of staff in 1963. In that position, he developed the military doctrine that was used by Israel in the 1967 war. In 1968, he was appointed Israel’s ambassador to the United States, a position in which he served for five years. He went on to become labor minister in Prime Minister Golda Meir’s government in 1974. In April, the same month he received the labor portfolio, Meir resigned and he was elected leader of the Labor Party. In June, he assumed the post of prime minister.
In September 1975, Rabin’s government signed the Interim Agreement Between Israel and Egypt, in which both countries pledged the conflict would not be resolved by force or the threat of force or military blockade. Additionally, in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal from parts of the Sinai, Egypt agreed to allow non-military cargo through the Suez Canal. In 1976, Rabin authorized the successful rescue of hostages from a hijacked Air France plane that had been taken to Entebbe, Uganda. Rabin resigned as prime minister in 1977 amid controversy about him and his wife maintaining U.S. bank accounts, which was illegal at the time. From 1984 to 1990, Rabin served as minister of defense in a Labor-Likud National Unity government that was first led by Shimon Peres and then Yitzhak Shamir. As defense minister, he oversaw the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 1985 and the Israeli response to the first intifada.
In 1992, Rabin was reelected Labor Party chairman and assumed the post of prime minister after the party won the most seats in the June elections. His government continued talks that had begun at the 1991 Madrid conference with the Palestinians, Jordan and Syria. In June 1992, Rabin decided to freeze all new settlement construction and cancel thousands of contracts previously registered, but to allow continued construction on units already under way. Nevertheless, during his tenure thousands of new units were built. In January 1993, Yossi Beilin, a member of Rabin’s government initiated secret track-two negotiations between Israeli academics and the P.L.O. These talks led to the Oslo Accords, which Rabin and P.L.O. Chairman Yasser Arafat signed in September 1993. The Accords included mutual recognition, acceptance of the Palestinians right to self-rule and a framework for negotiations toward a resolution of the conflict. Immediately afterward, Rabin made the first official visit by an Israeli prime minister to Morocco. In May 1994, he signed the Cairo, or Gaza-Jericho, agreement with the Palestinians, which operationalized the Oslo agreement. In October 1994, Rabin and King Hussein of Jordan signed the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace. In September 1995, Rabin and Arafat signed Oslo II, which established a timetable for implementation, including transfer of power and elections for a Palestinian Authority. On November 4, 1995, while leaving a peace rally in Tel Aviv, Rabin was shot and killed by a Jewish right-wing extremist.