Former Tel Aviv mayor Shlomo (Cheech) Lahat passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 86. Lahat was rushed to the hospital Tuesday night after losing consciousness and was hospitalized in critical condition with severe infection.
Lahat's son Dan, who is a city council member today, told local media that his father died in a Tel Aviv hospital early Wednesday. Reports claimed 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 Organization. Rabin was assassinated in Tel Aviv in 1995 at a pro-peace rally that Lahat had helped to organize.
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.
He served as mayor of Tel Aviv between 1974 and 1993, presiding over its transformation into a vibrant and open urban center, easily distinguishable from the much more religious and restrained Jerusalem. It was under his leadership that Tel Aviv took on the racy and cosmopolitan aura it is known for today.
Lahat will be buried in Tel Aviv on Friday.