JERUSALEM (AP) – Former Tel Aviv mayor Shlomo Lahat, who presided over the city’s transformation into a vibrant and open urban centre, has died at the age of 87.
Lahat’s son Dan told Israel’s Channel 10 that his father died in a Tel Aviv hospital early on Wednesday. Israeli media said Lahat had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for several years.
Born in Germany in 1927, Lahat rose to the rank of brigadier general in the Israeli army and went into politics in 1973. He was elected Tel Aviv mayor the following year and remained in office until 1993.
Known popularly as “Chich,” Lahat was formally affiliated with the hard-line Likud Party, but became a strong supporter of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the main force behind Israeli peace efforts with Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organisation. Rabin was assassinated in Tel Aviv in 1995 at a pro-peace rally that Lahat had helped to organise.
Lahat is widely credited with inventing the slogan “the city that never stops” to describe Tel Aviv, a 105-year-old community distinguished by Bauhaus architecture and a laid-back Mediterranean-style culture.
Under his leadership, Tel Aviv took on a racy, cosmopolitan aura, which helps differentiate it from the much more restrained and religiously-oriented Jerusalem.
Israeli media said Lahat will be buried in Tel Aviv on Friday.