No government ministers attend state memorial for former Likud PM Shamir

Government also doesn’t send wreath for first time since ex-premier died in 2012; Knesset Speaker Ohana and several other prominent former Likud members attend

Yitzhak Shamir, pictured in 1992. (photo credit: Flash90)
Yitzhak Shamir, pictured in 1992. (photo credit: Flash90)

In a first, not a single government minister attended the state memorial ceremony Friday for former Likud prime minister Yitzhak Shamir.

The government also did not send a memorial wreath, the first time it has not done so since Shamir died in 2012, according to Channel 12 news.

The commemoration at Mount Herzl national cemetery in Jerusalem was attended by Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, a member of the ruling Likud party. Three former Likud members who are vocal opponents of the current government — former prime minister Ehud Olmert and National Unity MKs Gideon Sa’ar and Ze’ev Elkin — were also in attendance.

Noting Shamir served as the head of the right-wing Lehi paramilitary organization before Israel’s founding in 1948, Ohana praised the onetime underground fighter for setting behind his past “and looking to find what brings [people] together and is commonly shared.”

“He did not see his political rivals as enemies but rather as his countrymen, one nation. That’s his legacy,” Ohana said.

Sa’ar similarly praised Shamir as a unifying figure while also saying he considers the former premier as Israel’s “most ideological prime minister ever.”

“Today his grandchildren expressed this commitment to unity. Without preaching to one another, I hope we all learn to follow this path, which is Israel needs today more than ever,” Sa’ar wrote on Twitter.

Shamir first took over as premier in 1983 following the resignation of Likud’s first prime minister, Menachem Begin. Barring a two-year period between 1984 and 1986 when Shimon Peres held the premiership as part of a unity government, Shamir served as prime minister until 1992 when he was defeated in the elections by Labor’s Yitzhak Rabin. He then stepped down as Likud leader, paving the way for current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take the reins of the party.

The unity government that Shamir and Peres formed, in which the two switched off as premier, later was held up as the model for the power-sharing coalition that Netanyahu assembled in 2020 with National Unity leader Benny Gantz, which collapsed after nine months.

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