Yuval Steinitz

Yuval Steinitz
Date of birth (1958-04-10) 10 April 1958
Place of birth Ramot HaShavim, Israel
Knessets 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20
Faction represented in Knesset
1999– Likud
Ministerial roles
2009–2013 Minister of Finance
2013–2015 Minister of Intelligence
2013–2015 Minister of International Relations
2013–2015 Minister of Strategic Affairs
2015– Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy & Water Resources

Yuval Steinitz (Hebrew: יובל שטייניץ; born 10 April 1958) is Israel's Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, in charge of Israel Atomic Energy Commission and a member of the Security Cabinet. He is a member of the Knesset from the Likud party. He served as Minister of Finance (2009-2013) and as Minister of Intelligence and Strategic Affairs (2013-2015). Steinitz holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy and was a senior lecturer at the University of Haifa.


Born and raised in Moshav Ramot HaShavim, 30 km north of Tel Aviv, he is the eldest of four children. His father is an engineer and his late mother Mina, was a teacher of literature and philosophy. Steinitz served in the IDF as a soldier in Golani infantry Brigade (1977-1980). He sustained a leg injury during a battle with the Syrian army when he served as reservist, during the 1982 Lebanon War.[1]

Academic career

After three years of compulsory military service, he was awarded BA and MA in Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with honors.[2] His doctoral thesis From a Rational Point of View was completed at the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University.[3] The thesis examined the possibility of logical arguments for the existence of god, and the rule of logical reasoning in modern science. In 1993 Steinitz was awarded the Alon Scholarship for outstanding young doctors, which led to a teaching position at the University of Haifa. Steinitz was chosen two years in a row as "The outstanding Lecturer" in philosophy and the philosophy of science. In 1996 he was appointed Senior Lecturer (the Israeli parallel of a tenured professor).

Steinitz has published several philosophy books. The first, Invitation to Philosophy (1987), became a number one best-selling philosophy book in Israel, and was printed in 60 editions. Another book, A Logical-Scientific Missile to God and Back became a best seller as well and was printed in 16 editions. He also published philosophical papers in academic journals including The Philosophical Quarterly, American Philosophical Quarterly, International Philosophical Quarterly, Cambridge Religious Studies, and The Jerusalem Philosophical Quarterly Iyyun.

Political career

Steinitz's political involvement began in the early 1980s when he joined the 'Peace Now' movement as a young student. He was injured in his leg (again) during an anti-government rally in Jerusalem in 1983, when a right-wing extremist hurled a hand-grenade into the crowd, killing peace activist Emil Grunzweig.[4] His reservations about Oslo Accords signed with the Palestinians, together with his concerns regarding the massive Egyptian military buildup despite the peace treaty with Israel, led him to shift to the right in 1995 and to publicly support the Likud Party.[5]

The 15th Knesset (1999–2003)

In 1999 was elected to the 15th Knesset on the Likud list. A year later he became a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the chairman of its "Subcommittee on Defense Planning and Policy" and a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Constitution Law and Courts Committee.

In 1999-2004 he served as president of Israel's Media Watch.[6]

The 16th Knesset (2003–2006)

After being reelected to the 16th Knesset, he became chairman of Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, chairman of the "Subcommittee on Intelligence and Secret Service" and co-chairman of the "Joint Committee on Defense with the US Congress", which he established and chaired together with Senator Jon Kyl.[7] Right at the beginning of his tenure, Steinitz declared that the committee wil cease to be "The House of Lords" and will exercise "a very proactive and effective parliamentary oversight of Israel defense establishment". This new approach has led him to series of clashes with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, with Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz and with IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon.[8]

Few months later he established the "Investigation Committee for the Israeli Intelligence following the Iraq War" and appointed himself as its chairman. This was followed later on by the establishment of similar committees in United States and Britain. The committee report in 2004 sharply criticized the Israeli Intelligence Community for misleading alerting reports, following its failure to detect the non-existence of chemical weapons in Iraq before the war. Additionally, the report also criticized the failure of the Israeli intelligence to detect the Libyan nuclear program on time. The committee's public report included a number of specific recommendations:[9]

Alongside with the above, Steinitz established a special Public Committee led by Prof. Amnon Rubinstein to examine the means to improve parliamentary oversight of the defense establishment.[10] As committee chairman often pointed to the massive Egyptian military buildup with modern American weapons. In addition, Steintz expressed a great Support for developing the Israeli Navy into a significant strategic arm and published several articles on this issue at the Maarachot Military Journal.[11]

Unlike Netanyahu, Steinitz did support Sharon's 2005 plan to withdrawal from Gaza. Yet, at the same time, he led a parliamentary battle against delivering the Philadelphi Corridor to Egypt, claiming that the Egyptians deliberatley ignore Palestinian arms smuggling through the Sinai Peninsula.[12] He also argued that the Israel-Egypt Philadelphi agreement might erode the demilitarization of Sinai.[13]

In addition, he called for a rapid "Defensive Shield" Operation in Gaza, prior to the Israeli withrawal, in order to destroy the Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets industry.[14]

The 17th Knesset (2006–2009)

Steinitz was reelected to the 17th Knesset in 2006 when the Likud has lost his leading position to Kadima. As an opposition MK became again a member on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and as the chairman of the "Subcommittee on Dedense Readiness". Steinitz was Netanyahu's candidate foe chairman of the "World Likud" in June 2006, but he lost to MK Danny Danon.

The 18th Knesset (2009–2013)

After being reelected to the 18th Knesset, and following the Likud 2009 victory, Steinitz was appointed Minister of Finance and a member of the inner Security Cabinet by Prime Minister Netanyahu.[15]

He was the first Finance Minister of Israel to submit to the Knesset a two-year budget, instead of the until-then customary one-year budget. This move generated some controversy, with some accusing it of decreasing government transparency[16] and others praising it for its greater efficiency.[17]

The 19th Knesset (2013–2015)

In the 19th Knesset Steinitz served as Minister for Intelligence, Strategic Affairs and International Relations in the new government.

The 20th Knesset (2015–)

Steinitz was reelected to 20th Knesset and became Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources in the Thirty-fourth government of Israel.


Among the laws initiated by Steinitz during his tenure as MK:

Minister of Finance (2009-2013)

With the establishment of the 32nd by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Steinitz was appointed Minister of Finance. He took up this position in March 2009, during the beginning of the global economic crisis, and after the Israeli economy already suffered from two quarters of negative economic growth which led to almost 10% unemployment.[20]

After few weeks at office, Steinitz has launched an emergency plan entitled "Blima & Tnufa" (Break and Accelerate) aimed at returning the country to positive economic growth, through dramatically encouraging investments in the high-tech industry, in R&D, and in construction and transportation.[21] As part of the program, a "triple package deal" between the government, the Histadrut Unions Association and the Israel Manufacturers Association was signed. The employees agreed to contribute 3.5 Bilion NIS to help accelerating growth.[22] In April 2009, Steinitz announced his unprecetented plan to enact the first biennial budget in Israel's history,[23] as part of his counter-crisis policy. In July 2009, the government approved the biennial budget (since then all budgets in Israel were biennial).

In the beginning of his term, Steinitz raise VAT from 15.5% to 16.5% effectively from July 2009, but it was reduce to 16% in Jenuary 2010. In 2010 the Israeli economy has already shown the fastest growing figures in the western world, with 5% growth and sharp reduction of unemployment.[24]

In April 2009 Steinitz appointed Prof. Omer Moav as head of his adivsory committee. When Moav resigned a year later, Steinitz appointed Prof. Avi Simchon to the post.[25] In November 2009 Steinitz appointed Haim Shani as director general, but he resigned a year and a half later following the 2011 social protests.[26]

Secretary-General of the OECD José Ángel Gurría with Steinitz in Jerusalem, January 2016

In 2009 Steinitz started an intensive diplomatic capaign to promote Israel's accepatance to the OECD.[27] In May 2010, after more than fifteen years of failing attempts and despite of strong opposition from the Arab World, Israel has finally become a full member of the OECD.[28]

In 2010 Steinitz established the Sheshinski Committee to examine ways to increase the level of taxation on Natural Gas and Oil fields.[29] Steinitz announce that he intend to raise the level of the over-whole "government-take" on gas and oil from 20% to around 50%-60%. This led to a very aggressive campaign against him by the energy lobby, including preasures from the US White House on behalf of the American Noble Energy.[30] In 2011 Steinitz legislate the committee recommendations in the Knesset, raising the "government-take" on big gas fields to more than 60%.[31] In addition, Steinitz has doubled the royalties payaed by "Israel Chemicals" from using the Dead Sea natural resources and cancel its historic tax exemptions.[32]

Two other important committees were the "Concetration Committee" (established at winter 2011 together with PM Netanyahu), which led to unprecedented steps to reduce economic concetration in Israel, like enforcing separation between significant Financial and Real holdings;[33] And the "Investment Taxation Committee" (established in 2010 together with Minister Ben-Eliezer), which led to significant increase in Israel's investments incentives.[34]

In 2011, a doctors' strike broke out and paralyzed all Hospitals and Clinics around the country, in what became the longest strike in Israel history. The strike ended after five months with a compromise between the Ministry of Finance and the Doctors union, which included the improvement of the doctors employment conditions specially in peripheral hospitals, as well as Steinitz's demand that hospital doctors will be subjected to time clocks. Nevertheless, hundreds of interns and 200 senior doctors continued the strike and the protest against the deal, until eventually the protest petered out.[35]

In the summer of 2011, and alongside with the doctors strike, a series of social protests against the cost of living in Israel took place. Demonstrations took place for a prolonged period of time, focusing on the high housing prices and the cost of day care. The protesters were accompanied by doctors, teachers, students, and dairy farmers, who called for a change in the government social outlook.[36] At the beginning Steinitz rejected the protesters' claims. But with the continuation of the protests, Steinitz began to show a more flexible attitude. One step was lowering taxes in order to reduce petrol price hike. Following the appointment of the "Trajtenberg Committee", Steinitz dealt with implementation of the committee's recommendations.[37]

In September 2011, S&P raised Israel credit rating to A+.[38]

During his tenure, Steinitz made extensive efforts to develop business connections with China and India. In 2010-2011, Israeli exports to these countries increased by 35%.[39] During his three official visits in China and India, Steinitz led negotiations for the signing a series of bilateral agreements designed to increase the volume of trade with these countries. Among other things, the agreement include specipic steps to encourage young doctors from China and India to make their Postdoctoral Researches in Israel.[40][41][42]

In July 2012, Steinitz led the signing of an economic agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. As part of the deal, it was decided to increase joint enforcements against smuggling of goods, and Israeli assistance to the Palestinian tax collection capabilities.[43]

In 2012 the state annual deficit reached 39 Bilion NIS, almost twice as much as was predicted, but the Debt-to-GDP ratio continued to decline. The average economic growth during Steinitz's tenure as Finance Minister (2010-2012) was 4.5%.

Minister of Intelligence and Strategic Affairs (2013-2015)

After the 2013 elections Steinitz was appointed Minister for Intelligence, Strategic Affairs and International Relations, and became responsible to several topics:

British Foreign Secretary William Hague with Steinitz in London, April 2014

Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water (2015-)

In May 2015, Steinitz was appointed Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, as well as Minister in charge of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission. Two months later, after several years of delays and against very strong opposition from the Israeli left circles, Steinitz formulated the "Gas Framework", in order to enable the development of Israel's biggest gas discovery "Leviathan" (discovered in 2010), and to pave the way to future gas and oil explorations. The "Gas Framework" was approved by the Israeli government in August 2015, and by the Knesset Plenum in September 2015. Yet in March 2016 Israel's Supreme court nullified the framework stability section, and forced Minister Steinitz to amend it and bring it back to government approval. The revised framework was approved in May 2016, and the development of "Leviathan" ultimately started.[47][48]

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Steinitz in Jerusalem, April 2016

In April 2016 the US Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz visited Israel for the first time. Together with Steinitz, they signed a bilateral agreement which upgrade the energy cooperation between the United States and Israel.[49]

In July 2016 Steinitz announced that the Ministry of Energy will publish new oil and gas licenses, after four years in which the country economic waters were practically closed for new explorations and searches.[50]


He has campaigned for heightened awareness of the Iranian nuclear threat, lobbying at home and abroad to ensure that Iran does not become a nuclear power.[51]

In 2008, when Israel refused permission for Palestinian Fulbright students to leave Gaza and study in the United States, Steinitz supported this action. He told the New York Times: “We are fighting the regime in Gaza that does its utmost to kill our citizens and destroy our schools and our colleges. So I don’t think we should allow students from Gaza to go anywhere. Gaza is under siege, and rightly so, and it is up to the Gazans to change the regime or its behavior.”[52] He disagreed with former Governor of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fischer, on various issues, and has a complicated relationship with Netanyahu, who bypassed him several times in his first year in office.[4]

In June 2013, when Austria planned to withdraw its UN-Troops (stationary since 1974) from the Golan Heights, Yuval Steinitz issued a statement expressing regret at the Austrian move, adding that the lesson for Israel was clear: “Even as part of peace agreements, Israel cannot place its security in the hands of international forces instead of relying on the presence of IDF soldiers.”

In December 2015, after the assassination of Samir Kuntar, he claimed in the newspaper Hareetz that the Finnish Intelligence services was perhaps behind this affair.[53][54] After contact from the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, Hareetz claimed that it was a joke, putting to serious threat Israel's foreign policy.[55]


Steinitz is married to Gila Kanfy-Steinitz, a judge and the vice president of the Jerusalem District Court. They have three children.

Writings by Steinitz

Books in English

Articles in English


  1. A Loyal Ally to Netanyahu Moves to Center Stage as Iranian Talks Heat Up
  2. MK Yuval Steinitz in the Knesset website
  3. Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas Tel Aviv University website (Hebrew)
  4. 1 2 'With all guns blazing' Haaretz
  5. Avi Pozen "Beaad atzuma hogenet" The Seventh Eye, 1 May 1996
  6. Israel's Media Watch past Leadership
  7. "American senators to visit Israel" YnetNews, 17 February 2007
  8. "Who oversees the military? Globes, 17 July 2004 (Hebrew)
  9. The Committee of Enquiry into the Intelligence System in Light of the War in Iraq
  10. recommendation: The Knesset will oversees the territories Walla News, 13 December 2004 (Hebrew)
  11. The sea as Israeli strategic depth Maarachot, May 2002 (Hebrew)
  12. Q&A with MK Yuval Steinitz Haaretz, 2 December 2010 (Hebrew)
  13. Government confirms: Changes to the peace agreement with Egypt Yedioth Ahronoth, 28 August 2005 (Hebrew)
  14. Steinitz: Military operation or postpone disengagement from Gaza Ynet, 25 May 2005 (Hebrew)
  15. Netanyahu sworn in as Israel's prime minister Haaretz, 1 April 2009.
  16. Two-year budget feeds corruption Archived 5 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. Globes (27 April 2010). Retrieved on 9 September 2011.
  17. A Case Study in Success: Yuval Steinitz Archived 16 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. Frischoffthepress.com (5 October 2010). Retrieved on 9 September 2011.
  18. Knesset approves 3 year cooling off period for IDF officers YnetNews, 12 March 2007
  19. New Law Regulates Research of Dangerous Bacteria and Viruses Haaretz, 6 November 2008
  20. The Israeli Labor Market 1999-2014 Chief Economist Department's, Ministry of Finance
  21. "Blima & Tnufa Ministry of Finance (Hebrew)
  22. After a night of discussions the package deal is signed NRG, 13 May 2009 (Hebrew)
  23. https://www.knesset.gov.il/mmm/data/pdf/me02392.pdf
  24. Analysts shocked, officials gleeful at surging Israeli growth: 7.8% in Q4 Haaretz, 17 February 2011
  25. Finance Minister advisor Prof. Moav quits Globes, 27 April 2010
  26. Treasury Chief Haim Shani Quits Over Short Shrift From Steinitz Haaretz, 1 August 2011
  27. http://www.jpost.com/Business/Business-News/PM-celebrates-Israels-OECD-accession
  28. OECD members vote unanimously to invite Israel to join BBC News, 10 May 2010
  29. Sheshinski Committee Report January 2011
  30. http://www.the7eye.org.il/12665 (Hebrew)
  31. The government approved raising the tax on gas Ynet, 23 January 2011 (Hebrew)
  32. ICL will be entitled to special taxation track Calcalist, 30 November 2010 (Hebrew)
  33. Q&A What Is Israel's New Business Concentration Law and Why Should We Care? read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/business/1.565986 Haaretz, 29 December 2013
  34. Ministers of Industry and Finance will examine tax incentives Channel 7, 26 January 2010 (Hebrew)
  35. Israeli Doctors Strike Finally Ends After Five Months as Landmark Deal Inked Haaretz, 25 August 2011
  36. Israeli protests: 430,000 take to streets to demand social justice The Guardian, 4 September 2011
  37. Steinitz praises Trajtenberg C'tee, not all recommendations The Jerusalem Post, 28 September 2011
  38. Israel Punches Above Weight as GDP Beats Developed World Bloomberg, 22 September 2011
  39. Annual Report 2013 Bank Of Israel, March 2013 (Hebrew)
  40. Israel and India are establishing a high-tech investments fund totaling 40 Million Dollar NRG, 7 March 2011 (Hebrew)
  41. For the first time in a decade : Indian foreign minister visits Israel Walla News, 10 January 2012 (Hebrew)
  42. Academic cooperation with India and China Education Ministry Spokesman, 27 February 2012 (Hebrew)
  43. Israel, PA ink first economic deal since 2002 Ynet News, 1 August 2012 (Hebrew)
  44. Israel minister meets British official on Iran deal dti news, 27 November 2013
  45. Israeli Officials Talk With French to Try to Influence Iran Nuclear Deal The New York Times, 23 March 2015
  46. Intelligence Min. Wraps Up Lobbying Mission against Iran Deal Channel 7, 24 March 2015
  47. Israeli Government Approves Revised Gas Deal Haaretz, 22 May 2016
  48. Ministry of Infrastructures approved 'Leviathan' development plan Bizportal, 2 June 2016 (Hebrew)
  49. US and Israel to expand energy, water ties amid gas deal shakeup The Jerusalem Post, 4 April 2016
  50. srael has undiscovered gas worth 4 Leviathans Globes, 16 June 2016
  51. Claire, Sheera. (12 November 2007) Steinitz: Egypt letting Hamas build an army. Jerusalem Post. Retrieved on 9 September 2011.
  52. U.S. Withdraws Fulbright Grants to Gaza. The New York Times. (30 May 2008). Retrieved on 9 September 2011.
  53. http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/1.692786
  54. https://twitter.com/LauraHuu/status/678552980937920512
  55. http://www.hs.fi/ulkomaat/a1450578236902
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