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David Libai

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David Libai

David Libai
Date of birth (1934-10-22) 22 October 1934
Place of birth Tel Aviv, Mandatory Palestine
Knessets 11, 12, 13, 14
Faction represented in Knesset
1984–1991 Alignment
1991–1999 Labor Party
Ministerial roles
1992–1996 Minister of Justice
1995 Minister of the Interior

David Libai (Hebrew: דוד ליבאי‎, born 22 October 1934) is an Israeli jurist and former politician. He was a member of the Knesset and served as Minister of Justice from 1992 to 1996.



Libai was born in Tel Aviv in 1934, where he attended Ironi Alef High School. He studied law at the Hebrew University within the academic reserve program of the Israel Defense Forces. He received his MA from the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Law in Tel Aviv University (where he served as Dean of Students) and his PhD from University of Chicago Law School. He served as deputy chief military prosecutor and was discharged as a major.[1][2]

Political career

He began his professional career in the office of Minister of Justice Pinchas Rosen, in charge of the amnesty department and as spokesman for the Ministry. In 1960 he was certified as a lawyer. He was appointed chief assistant to attorney-general Colin Gillon and chief prosecutor of the state workers' disciplinary court.[2]

In 1964 he opened a private law office. In 1977 he became chairman of the Labor Party's constitution committee.[2] From 1983 to 1985 he was head of the Israeli Bar. He has also been a member of the National inquiry commission on prison conditions, member of the Press Council, and chairman of the Israel-Britain Parliamentary Friendship Association. He is an associate professor at Tel Aviv University and the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center.[1]

In 1984 he was elected to the eleventh Knesset for the Alignment. In the eleventh and twelfth Knessets he was chairman of the State Control Committee and a member of the House, Constitution and Law and Justice Committee (of which he was also a member in the fourteenth Knesset). During his tenure the State Control Committee appointed the Beisky Commission to investigate the bank stock crisis of 1983.[2]

After he was elected to the thirteenth Knesset for the Labor Party, he was appointed Minister of Justice by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He also held this position under Shimon Peres, following Rabin's assassination. For a brief period in 1995 he was also Interior Minister. As Minister of Justice, he initiated three national inquiry commissions: concerning the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, the Yemenite Children Affair, and Rabin's assassination. He resigned from the Knesset in 1996.[2]

Private practice

In 1997, he was hired him to defend Samuel Sheinbein, an Israeli-American who fled the United States and sought Israeli citizenship after committing murder.[3] He successfully convinced the Israeli Supreme Court that Sheinbein was entitled to the protections of Israeli citizenship and could thus not be extradited to the United States.[4] After the Supreme Court's decision in February 1999, Libai stated, "Our Supreme Court once again proved that it is independent and did not yield to political pressure from the United States", before adding that Israel's extradition laws were flawed and should be amended.[5]

In 2006 he represented former Comverse Technology CEO Kobi Alexander.[6] He also represented former Israeli President Moshe Katsav against rape charges, but later resigned as his attorney, claiming he had taken the case only when he believed it was a blackmail attempt.[7][8]

Awards and recognition

He is the recipient of the Pinchas Rosen Award for his legal studies. In 2005 he received an ethics awards from Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni.[9]

Personal life

Libai is married and is the father of Daniel and Daphne.[2]

Select publications


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b c d e f
  3. ^ Dina Kraft, "Samuel Sheinbein Sentenced to 24 Years", Washington Post, October 24, 1999.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^

External links

  • David Libai on the Knesset website
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