Avraham Burg was born in Jerusalem
on the 19th
, 1955. His Father was Dr Yosef Burg
, a leader of the National Religious Party
, and a minister
in various Israeli government
s from the establishment of the State
until the 1980s
He was a member of the paratroopers during his military service in the Israeli army, attaining the rank of lieutenant. He then went on to start a BA course at Hebrew University. He is known to speak Hebrew, English and French.
He became involved in the peace movement, and helped lead protests to the Lebanon war in 1982. He was wounded by a hand grenade that was thrown at a Peace Now march in Jerusalem.
In 1985, Avraham Burg was asked to become the advisor on Diaspora affairs to prime minister Shimon Peres. He remained in this position until 1988. In this year he entered the Knesset on the list of the Ma`arach (Alignment) Party. He became a member of the Knesset Finance Committee, the State Control Committee, and the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
He crossed the floor to join the Israeli Labour Party and was placed third on their list for the 1992 election; the only people ahead of him were Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. He became the chair of the Knesset Education and Culture committee, and a member of the Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women.
In Feburary 1995, Avraham Burg was elected Chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the World Zionist Organization, a hugely important semi-political position. He resigned from the Knesset and took up this job.
Under his charmanship, the Jewish Agency underwent massive structural and cultural changes. He moved the Agency to work in new areas, such as seeking reparations for Holocaust victims and fighting for greater religious tolerance inside the Jewish people. He also presided over the elimination of bureaucracy that meant the Jewish Agency and WZO had identical departments doing the same thing with separate staff and budgets.
Avraham Burg stepped down as leader of the Jewish Agency to reenter the Knesset on the One Israel (Labour-Gesher-Maimad coalition) list for the 1999 elections. In July 1999, he became Speaker of the Knesset.
After Ehud Barak resigned in December 2000, Avraham Burg became one of the candidates to succeed him as Labour Party leader. The party elections were delayed for some time, and when they eventually took place in September 2001, Burg narrowly won. However, there were allegations of impropriety, particularly over the votes of Druze Labour party members. Following a revote in December 2001, his rival, the Defence Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer won instead. Avraham Burg continues as Knesset speaker.
He is married to a French-born woman called Yael, a psychologist and headmistress of a Jerusalem secondary school. They have six children, and live in Nataf, a village near Jerusalem.