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Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Legendary mayor of Jerusalem Kollek dies at 95

Legendary mayor of Jerusalem Kollek dies at 95

Legendary mayor of Jerusalem Teddy Kollek passed away at the age of 95, it was announced on Tuesday morning.

Kollek served as mayor of Jerusalem for almost three decades - from 1965 until 1993, when he lost to current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Kollek spent most of his career trying to balance the needs of the city's diverse interest groups. He also led a major building effort, adding new neighborhoods, parks and highways.

He preached fairness and coexistence to the city's Arabs but left no doubt that he wanted Jerusalem to remain undivided, under Israel's sovereignty, despite Palestinians' demand for the Arab part of the city as the capital of their would-be state.

"Jerusalem's people of differing faiths, cultures and aspirations must find peaceful ways to live together other than by drawing a line in the sand," Kollek once wrote of his philosophy.

He was born in 1911 in Nagyvaszony, near Budapest, grew up in Vienna. He was an ardent Zionist, taking after his namesake Theodor Herzl.

Kollek moved to Palestine with his family in 1937, shortly before the Nazis took power in Austria. He was a founding member of Kibbutz Ein Gev and served in the Hagana.

Kollek became a close ally of David Ben-Gurion and served in his government from 1952-1965.

He then became the mayor of Jerusalem, succeeding Mordechai Ish Shalom.

In 1967, the newly elected mayor established the Jerusalem Foundation. Since then, the Foundation has supported the capital's needs by connecting to members of the Diaspora Jewish community as well as to others of various faiths who view Jerusalem as central to the world. It has raised hundreds of millions of dollars from donors, mostly abroad, for an array of parks, arts, culture and social service projects.

The details of his funeral were to be announced later in the day. He is survived by his wife Tamar, son Amos and daughter Osnat.

With AP

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