Yaakov Neeman, who served twice as justice minister and once as finance minister, died Sunday at age 77.
No cause of death was given for Ne’eman, a lawyer who also spent decades in politics.
He passed away in his home in Jerusalem on Sunday.
Neeman was born in Tel Aviv in 1939. In 1972, he opened the law firm Herzog, Fox and Neeman, along with future President Chaim Herzog.
Neeman was director of the Finance Ministry from 1979 until 1981. In 1996, he was appointed justice minister by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though he was not a member of Knesset.
Neeman was forced to resign two months later, after criminal charges that he tried to convince a witness to commit perjury in the trial of MK Aryeh Deri were leveled against him — charges of which he was eventually cleared.
Neeman returned to Netanyahu’s government and served as finance minister from 1997 until 1998, when he stepped down, citing lack of support from Netanyahu.
After leaving government, Neeman returned to his law practice.
In 2009, when Netanyahu again became prime minister, Neeman, who had returned to his law practice in the interim, was appointed justice minister for a second time, remaining in the position until 2013, when he handed it over to Tzipi Livni of the Hatnua party.
Netanyahu praised Neeman as one of the top jurists in the country, “with brilliant intellect and a warm Jewish heart.” The prime minister described him as one who always sought compromise and discussion.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who worked at his father’s law firm along with Neeman, called him “a teacher and close friend for decades. A big-hearted and broad-minded man.”
President Reuven Rivlin said that just last week he spoke with Neeman, asking him for his advice. He described him as “an expert jurist. But also outside the realm of law he was constantly involved in communal work.”
Other officials remembered Neeman, who was religious, for his commitment to Jewish life and as someone who could act as an honest broker in his public roles.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein described Neeman as “a unique figure in our public life, blessed with talent and pleasantness, who believed in his heritage and his people with his entire body.”
Livni tweeted that he was “a Torah scholar who knew how to make peace between people, to find compromise between viewpoints and to always give good advice and wisdom.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said that he was “outstanding, with the ability to combine Torah and action. He was always prepared to serve the state…. He was a brilliant lawyer, conservative in his views, who laid the foundations for many of the initiatives that we are advancing today.”
Neeman is survived by his wife and six children.