Yitzhak Shamir, Israel’s 7th Prime Minister, Passed Away At The Age of 96

Yesterday, On June 30th 2012, Israel’s 7th Prime Minister (as well as former Minister of Foreign Affairs, former Knesset Chairman and many more titles) passed away at the of 96. His name was Itzhak Shamir, and he served as Israel’s Prime Minister during the 1980’s for 7 years.

Shamir wasn’t his original last name. He changed his surname, after using it as an alias while hiding from British authorities during the times of the British Mandate (due to his part in “Jewish resistance” movement against British forces, when in the 1940s, Britain attempted to go back on past declarations and agreements, by giving the Arab community all of the land, in hopes of having the Arab and Muslim world and nations on their side during World War II).

In the 1970s, Shamir joined the Israeli political game, and joined the right-wind Likud party.

In 1977 he was appointed chairman of the Israeli parliament – the Knesset.

In 1979, he was appointed the Foreign Relations Minister.

Yitzhak Shamir, Israel's 7th Prime MInister (October 15th 1915- June 30th 2012)

Yitzhak Shamir, Israel’s 7th Prime MInister (1915-2012)

After Israel’s Prime Minister, Menachem Begin (who signed Israel’s first-ever peace-treaty with an Arab nation – Egypt), announced he can no longer function as Prime Minister, Shamir won primary elections and became Israel’s 7th Prime Minister.

In the 1984 elections, Shamir and current-Israeli-President, Shimon Peres, who back then was chairman of the Labor party, formed a unity-government agreement, which included a “rotation” – Peres has served as Prime Minister of Israel for 2 years, while Shamir served as Minister of Foereign Relations, and they’ve reversed the roles for the second half of the government’s term (via an agreement in which Peres has resigned and suggested to the President, Haim Hertzog, that Shamir will be appointed the new Prime Minister).

During these years, Israel faced the operation against Hezbollah rockets on Israeli citizens which turned into the First Israeli-Labenese War (ending in May of 2000; 2nd Israeli-Labenese war was in summer of 2006, after Hezbollah militants crossed the international border, attacking an Israeli patrol and kidnapping the bodies of two Israeli reserved-forces soldiers).

In addition, an economical crisis and a resession were threatening the world, and Israel as well. And various attempts for some kind of negotiations with the Palestinians were made, as well as with the Arab nations. None came to fruition.

The unity government has also conducted one of Israel’s largest and deadliest prisoner swap deals – exchanging 1,150 terrorists for 3 soldiers.

In addition, the unity government formed diplomatic relations with Marocco.

At the end of the term, the first Palestinian intifada broke, bringing with it many years of terror and bloodshed. During that time, there was a dispute as to who is representing the Palestinians and with who can Israel negotiate. It was decided that the Palestinians shall hold elections, which never took place, and in later years Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (who was Minister of Defense in the unity government) would sign the Oslo Accords with the Palestinian Fatah fraction (who holds control of the PLO – supposedly the representative organization, formed in 1964).

After the 1988 elections, Shamir was re-elected as Prime Minister and formed another unity government, without a rotation this time. However, the unity didn’t last the term, after frictions caused Labor chairman Shimon Peres to vote with the opposition on a “No Confidence” Vote. However, Peres himself failed at forming a government of his own and Shamir managed to form a different coalition, ending 4 years of term and a total of 7 years as Prime Minister.

In 1992, he was outvoted and Itzhak Rabin (who served as Minister of Defense in both governments) was elected as Prime Minister, many due to his military background as Shamir was percieved as unable to stop the Palestinian terror from the intifada.

In addition to his actions in public service, Shamir also took part in attempting to allow Jewish people from the Soviet Union to immigrate to Israel, and after the fall of the Berlin wall, his government attempted to take in many immigrants from Russia. He also took part in the operation to bring Jews from Ethiopia to Israel.

Shamir was Israel’s Prime Minister during The Gulf War and has implemented the “restriant policy” in which Israel did not respond to Saddam Hussain firing rockets at it, in an attempt to have Israel join the battles and the Arab nations withdraw. This opened a window of opportunity for talks between Israel and the Arab world, and with American pressure came to be in a conference in Madrid, which didn’t lead to great peace but is considered a small window which allowed for the Oslo Accords and Israel’s peace treaty with Jordan (in Yitzhak Rabin’s government).

Yitzhak Shamir: October 15th, 1915 – June 30th 2012. May he rest in peace.


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