Israeli politicians lamented the death of 96-year-old former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, who passed away on Saturday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Yitzhak Shamir belongs to the generation of giants who established the State of Israel and fought for the freedom of the Jewish people on its land. Shamir led the State of Israel with deep loyalty to the Jewish people.”
President Shimon Peres wrote on his Facebook page that “Yitzhak Shamir was a brave warrior before and after the founding of the State of Israel. He fought with courage against the British Mandate in the days of the underground and his incredible contribution to the State of Israel during his time in the Mossad will remain forever enshrined in the tales of bravery of our nation. He was loyal to his views, a great patriot and a true lover of Israel who served his country with integrity and unending commitment.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the ex-prime minister was “resilient like granite and uncompromisingly focused,” and “always sought to ensure the freedom of Israel.”
“Yitzhak Shamir asked himself just what was good and right for the struggle for national security, and what was good and right for the people of Israel, and according to that he acted,” Barak said.
Said Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin: “We lost a great man, who was a great leader, who was fundamentally a man of the people. To really understand him and his refusal to be enticed by diplomatic overtures that would have weakened Israel you had to have heard him speak on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Shamir was a symbol of Israel’s rising from the ashes of the Holocaust to strength and staying power. Out of this developed his personality as an enlightened realist and a stiff ideologue, who withstood internal and external pressure and fought to prevent a situation that the people of Israel will not have their own land and state.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said that Shamir played a significant part in the establishment of the state and served it faithfully all his life with unwavering devotion. “Yitzhak Shamir was a man devoted to the Land of Israel with every fiber of his body and with every office he held,” Liberman said. “He was a prime example of a man who stuck to his principles.”
Vice Prime Minister Dan Meridor said that Shamir was “whole-heartedly Zionist and saw himself as a servant of the Zionist vision. In his relation between the [Zionist] vision and his ego, ego barely existed.”
“He showed tremendous restraint in the Gulf War, when everyone wanted to attack,” Meridor added. “He toed the line that we wouldn’t attack. He led Israel to the Madrid talks, to talks with the Arabs. He was very practical, very realistic.”
Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that “Yitzhak Shamir was rock solid in his convictions, loyal to his land and his people, also in the face of tremedous outside pressures that lay on him. These were values that guided him all these years and projected on his leadership.”
Opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) also eulogized Shamir, saying, “He was a determined prime minister who devoted his life to the country, and did it according to his ideological path with honesty, humility, and a modest lifestyle appropriate for a leader.”
Yachimovich also noted that history had proved some of Shamir’s decisions to be wise and prudent.