Israeli leaders and legislators on Monday praised the deceased former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, speaking to her strong character and calling her a friend of the Jewish state. Thatcher, known as the Iron Lady, piloted the UK government for 11 years. She died Monday morning of a stroke at age 87.
Thatcher “was truly a great leader, a woman of principle, of determination, of conviction, of strength… a woman of greatness,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “She was a staunch friend of Israel and the Jewish people. She inspired a generation of political leaders. I send my most sincere condolences to her family and to the government and people of Great Britain.”
President Shimon Peres also offered his condolences, calling Thatcher a “friend,” and “an exceptional leader.” In a statement, the president praised her “strength of character,” saying “she served as an inspiration for other leaders. As the first female prime minister of Great Britain, she broke new ground.” Thatcher represented “vision,” the president said, noting that Thatcher was a culmination of “people” and “ideas.”
“She was a true and dedicated friend of Israel, who stood with us in times of crisis and used her influence to help us in trying to make peace,” the president said. “During our negotiations with Jordan in the late 1980s, she stood as a mediator and a source of wisdom for me and the king of Jordan.”
MK Avigdor Liberman, Netanyahu’s foreign minister-designate, said the late Thatcher was a true friend of Israel. In recalling her visit to Israel — the first such visit to the Jewish state by a British PM — he said, “I remember well the tears she shed on her visit to Yad Vashem and the empathy she expressed for our nation’s past and future challenges. Margaret Thatcher was a strong and brave leader and stateswoman, who showed great foresight and was not afraid to act in the interests of her country and people.”
Members of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus also mourned Thatcher’s loss. Likud MK Gila Gamliel, one of the leaders of the caucus, spoke of Thatcher’s influence, saying she “was a powerful female leader and continues to influence those who followed in her footsteps. Her strength will always be an inspiration to people around the world.”
“Some say she was an ‘Iron Lady’; others say she was a ‘real leader,'” said Hatnua party MK Eliezer Stern. “She was someone who knew what was good for her people and was not afraid to lead them, sometimes against their own will, for the greater good.”