Uri Lubrani, a career diplomat and civil servant who served under Israel’s first prime minister and continued to work in public service until 2015, died on Monday at the age of 91.
Lubrani’s career extended back to a stint working for prime minister David Ben-Gurion, and he later became a legendary adviser to a series of defense ministers until his retirement in 2015.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told him when he left his office, “You have played an important part in our past and present.”
In 1944, at 18, he joined the Haganah, and assisted operations to smuggle illegal Jewish immigrants into British-Mandate Palestine. After World War II he was sent to France to train volunteers from English-speaking countries, returning with one group to fight in Israel’s War of Independence.
In 1950 he was appointed bureau chief to foreign minister Moshe Sharett.
In 1956 he became an adviser on Arab affairs to prime minister David Ben-Gurion, and subsequently worked for prime minister Levi Eshkol.
Lubrani served as ambassador to Uganda and later to Ethiopia and was centrally involved in the diplomatic contacts between Jerusalem and Addis Ababa that led to 1991’s “Operation Solomon,” which brought 20,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
Lubrani served as Israel’s head of mission in Tehran from 1973-1978, the final years of the Jewish state’s warm relations with Iran before the fall of the Shah.
From 1983-2000 he served as coordinator of operations in Lebanon and made ultimately unsuccessful efforts to repatriate captured Israeli airman Ron Arad.
“I met with a lot of Lebanese figures to collect information about the fate of Ron Arad,” he told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper in 2016.
After the withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces from Lebanon in 2000, Lubrani moved to serve as an adviser to a series of defense ministers, until 2010, when he became an adviser to strategic affairs minister Moshe Ya’alon.
Lubrani retired from public service in 2015.
“He was an experienced diplomat and a clever and wise adviser,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said of Lubrani. “He was one of the last Israelis to live in pre-revolutionary Iran, and he invested his experience and wisdom in Israel’s security.”