Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir Dies At 96
Born in Poland, the former prime minister first moved to Israel to fight for Israel’s independence as a Jewish underground leader during the time when Britain ruled Palestine, Haartez reported.
Shamir was notable for his strong belief that Israel should hold on to the land conquered in the 1967 war, The AP reported:
“Shamir embraced the ideology of the Revisionists — that Israel is the sole owner of all of the biblical Holy Land, made up of Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.”
The New York Times reported Shamir, a strong Zionist, set in motion the immigration of about 1 million Jews from the former Soviet Union,
“As prime minister he actively promoted continued Jewish settlement in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and while he was in office the Jewish population in the occupied territories increased by nearly 30 percent. He also encouraged the immigration of tens of thousands of Soviet Jews to Israel, a move that changed the country’s demographic character.”
However, Shamir was controversial for how he and his defense minister, Rabin, responded to the Palestinian uprising against Israeli control in December 1987, The New York Times reported.
“He and his defense minister, Mr. Rabin, deployed thousands of Israeli troops throughout the occupied territories with the goal of quashing the rebellion by force. They failed; the years of violence and death on both sides brought criticism and condemnation from around the world. The fighting also deepened divisions between Israel’s two political camps: leftists who believed in making concessions to bring peace, and members of the right who believed, as Mr. Shamir once put it, that ‘Israel’s days without Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip are gone and will not return.’”
Shamir was applauded for keeping Israel out of the Gulf War at first, JPost reported:
“At the urging of the United States, he held Israel's fire in the face of Scud missile salvoes by dictator Saddam Hussein rather than retaliate and endanger the US alliance with Arab powers battling to expel Iraq from Kuwait."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said this on the passing of the former prime minister, "Yitzhak Shamir belonged to the generation of giants who established the State of Israel and fought for the freedom of the Jewish people on their land," said Netanyahu, as reported by CNN.
Israeli media said a funeral would be held Monday and the funeral procession will leave from Israel's parliament.
Reach Executive Producer Jackie Mansky here.