Zeev Boim, a hawkish Israeli parliamentarian who served as housing minister and deputy defense minister among other posts, died Friday after a long fight with cancer. He was 67.
Boim was a member of the Likud party and was elected to parliament in 1996. He left Likud for the newly formed centrist Kadima party in 2005, which is now in the opposition.
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni eulogized Boim in a statement, saying "Israel had lost one of its greatest sons and leaders."
Boim was born in Jerusalem in 1943. He was a boyhood friend and confidant of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Boim drew criticism in 2004 when he was accused of making racist slurs at the height of violence between Israel and the Palestinians when suicide bombings were common.
Speaking at a memorial for Israeli victims of a Palestinian attack on a commuter bus in the 1970s, Boim suggested that attacks by Islamic and Palestinian militants were genetic. He later apologized for his remarks, saying he was speaking after a recent Palestinian attack and was overwhelmed by the scope of the bloodshed at the time.
His remarks were widely condemned in Israel and elsewhere.
Israeli media reported that Boim died Friday in a Milwaukee hospital where he was being treated for cancer. His body will be flown back to Israel Saturday night at the end of the Jewish Sabbath, media reported.
Boim is survived by his wife and three children. There were no details Friday night about where or when the funeral would take place.