Ariel mayor and former MK Ron Nachman died on Friday at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, after a prolonged struggle with cancer. He was 70 years old.
Nachman, known for his fiery personality and commanding media presence, helped establish Ariel in 1978 and served as its first mayor. He became its mayor again in 1985, and had filled the post ever since.
His funeral is set to take place in Ariel on Sunday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu eulogized Nachman, saying he was “committed with every fiber of his soul to the revival of the Jews in their country and to building a flourishing city in Samaria.”
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, during whose tenure the Ariel University Center of Samaria was recently recognized as a university, called Nachman “an extremely powerful pioneer of vision and faith.” He said the former MK had founded Ariel and turned it into an Israeli city “by force of his vision and unique leadership.”
Sa’ar added that Nachman, a dedicated Zionist, loved Israel “with all his heart” and fought for what he believed in, leaving behind an enduring contribution despite losing his battle with “the terrible disease.”
Nachman served as a member of the 13th Knesset, which was led by Yitzhak Rabin and the Labor party.
He leaves behind a wife, four daughters and several grandchildren.
A time for Nachman’s funeral was not immediately set.
Ariel is the fourth-largest settlement in the West Bank, and it’s the largest settlement that does not lie adjacent to Israel’s pre-1967 borders. It has a current population of approximately 18,600 residents.