Netanyahu: Shamir was one of the giants
Yitzhak Shamir, Israel's seventh prime minister, has died aged 96.
Shamir succeeded Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1983, as the second prime minister from the Likud. After the tie vote in the 1984 elections, Shamir and Shimon Peres rotated the prime minister's post in a national unity government. Shamir won the 1988 elections, and served until 1992. He was defeated in the 1992 election by Yitzhak Rabin.
Shamir was awarded the Israel Prize in 2001 for his life's work and contribution to the country. He was born on October 15, 1915, Poland as Yitzhak Yezernitzky. His birthplace, Rozhinoy, was part of the Russian Empire at time, became part of Poland after World War I, and is now known as Roshani in Belarus. His father was head of the Jewish community in the town, which had a Jewish majority.
Shamir began law studies at the University of Warsaw in 1934. He was active in Betar at the time, and immigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine in 1935, without completing his degree.
Shamir enrolled in the humanities at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, but quit in 1937 to join the Irgun (Ha'Etzel), a right-wing organization that fought against the Mandate. He later switched to the even more radical Lehi (Stern Gang). His family, including his parents and two sisters, perished in the Holocaust.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement, "Yitzhak Shamir belonged to the generation of giants that established the State of Israel and fought for the freedom of the Jewish People in its Land. Shamir led the State of Israel out of an abiding loyalty to the People and the Land. Shamir, who lost his family in the Holocaust, fought in the Lehi < and as Prime Minister worked to build up the security of the State of Israel and ensure its future; the citizens of the country were ever his concern. Shamir personified loyalty to the Land of Israel and the eternal values of the Jewish People."
Head of Opposition Labor Party chairwoman MK Shelly Yachimovich said in a statement, "Shamir was a determined prime minister who devoted his life to the country, on the basis of his ideology, with honesty, humility, and with a modest life style worthy of a leader." She added, "Israel's people will always remember his wisdom during the first Gulf War, when, despite his hawkish positions, he demonstrated restraint and avoided an unnecessary involvement by Israel in the war in Iraq. History long ago judged this decision as an act of courageous and sagacious leadership."
The White House said in a statement: "Yitzhak Shamir dedicated his life to the State of Israel. From his days working for Israel's independence to his service as Prime Minister, he strengthened Israel's security and advanced the partnership between the United States and Israel. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the people of Israel."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 1, 2012
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012
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