Michael Jacob Hazani Dead at 62

Michael Jacob Hazani, the Minister of Welfare and a leader of the National Religious Party, died today after taking ill suddenly during a tour of welfare institutions on the West Bank. Mr. Hazani, who was 62, was speaking in Jenin when he was stricken and rushed to a hospital in the nearby Israeli town of Afula where he was pronounced dead.

News of his death reached the Knesset during its morning session. Education Minister Aharon Yadlin who was addressing the Knesset, interrupted his remarks to speak in memory of his Cabinet colleague. Mr. Hazani was the first NRP minister to resign from the Cabinet of former Premier Golda Meir in 1974 in the controversy over the “Who is a Jew?” issue. However, when the NRP joined the coalition government of Premier Yitzhak Rabin last year, he accepted the Welfare Ministry portfolio which had been left vacant.

Mr. Hazani was born in Bendzin, Poland where he attended high school and the Rabbinical Seminary. He settled in Palestine in 1932 and became active in the Hapoel Hamizrachi movement. He was elected to the Knesset in 1931 and represented the NRP for many years in the Knesset finance committee. He was vice-chairman of the board of directors of the Bank Israel and held the same post with the United Mizrachi Bank. He entered the Meir Cabinet as Welfare Minister in 1971. Along with his colleagues Yosef Burg and Yitzhak Rafael, he headed Lamifne, the largest of several factions making up the NRP.

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