Yitzhak Shamir

Yitzhak Shamir

Infobox Prime Minister
name=Yitzhak Shamir
יִצְחָק שָׁמִיר

office= Prime Minister of Israel
term_start =20 October 1986
term_end =13 July 1992
predecessor =Shimon Peres
successor =Yitzhak Rabin
term_start2 =10 October 1983
term_end2 =14 September 1984
predecessor2 =Menachem Begin
successor2 =Shimon Peres
birth_date =birth date and age|df=yes|1915|10|15
birth_place =Ruzhinoy, Russian Empire (now in Belarus)
spouse =Shulamit Shamir
party =Likud

Audio|He-Yitzhak_Shamir.ogg|Yitzhak Shamir ( _he. יִצְחָק שָׁמִיר, born Icchak Jaziernicki on 15 October 1915) was Prime Minister of Israel from 1983 to 1984 and again from 1986 to 1992.


Early years

Shamir was born in Ruzhany, Russian Empire (now Belarus). He moved to Warsaw where he graduated from the law faculty of Warsaw University. As a youth he joined Betar, the Revisionist Zionist youth movement.

In Mandate Palestine

In 1935, he immigrated to Mandate Palestine, changing his surname to Shamir in the same year. He joined the Irgun Zvai Leumi, an underground Jewish militia organization directed against the British control of Palestine and inspired by the views of Vladimir Jabotinsky. When the Irgun split in 1940, Shamir sided with the most militant faction, Lehi, headed by Avraham Stern. This group has been described as a terrorist organization ["Stern Gang" "A Dictionary of World History". Oxford University Press, 2000. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press [http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O48-SternGang.html] .] . In secret contacts with German representatives at Beirut the group offered to open up a military front against the British in the Middle East in return for the expulsion (rather than extermination) of the Jewish population of Europe to Palestine. [Heller, Joseph (1995) "The Stern Gang: Ideology, Politics, and Terror, 1940-1949". Frank Cass Publishers. ISBN 0-7146-4558-3, pp. 85-86]

In 1941 Shamir was imprisoned by British authorities. After Stern was killed by the British in 1942, Shamir escaped from the detention camp and became one of the three leaders of the group in 1943, reforming it as "Lehi". In October 1944 he was exiled and interned in Africa by the Mandate authorities. He made an attempt to escape from one of the camps by hiding in a water tank.Cite news
last = Tesfai
first = Alemseged
title = A Bit of Eritrean History at Bridport, UK
accessdate = 2008-07-09
date = 2002-08-11
url = http://www.shaebia.org/wwwboard/messages/349.html
] He was returned, along with the other detainees, after the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948.Cite news
last = Plaut
first = Martin
title = Britain's 'Guantanamo Bay'
work = BBC
accessdate = 2008-07-09
date = 2002-08-06
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/2175882.stm

As one of Lehi's triumvirate, he authorized the assassination of the United Nations representative in the Middle East, Count Folke Bernadotte who was seen by Shamir and his collaborators as an anti-Zionist and "an obvious agent of the British enemy". [Gazi, Mordechai (2002) "Israeli Diplomacy & the Middle East Peace Process" London: Routledge. ISBN 0-7146-5233-4, p. 32] Regarding these actions, Shamir remarked that "neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat." Mearsheimer, John J. and Walt, Stephen. [http://ksgnotes1.harvard.edu/Research/wpaper.nsf/rwp/RWP06-011 The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy] , Kennedy School of Government Working Paper Number:RWP06-011, 13 March 2006.]

Shamir and his fellow underground fighters greatly admired the Irish Republicans and sought to emulate their anti-British struggle. Shamir himself took the nickname "Michael" for Michael Collins. [Colin Shindler, "The Land Beyond Promise:Israel, Likud and the Zionist Dream", I.B.Tauris, 2001 p.177]

After Israeli independence

After the successful battle for independence, Shamir joined the secret intelligence service (Mossad) (1955-1965). In 1969 he joined the Herut party headed by Menachem Begin and was first elected to the Knesset in 1973 as a member of the Likud. He became Speaker of the Knesset in 1977, and foreign minister in 1980, before succeeding Begin as prime minister in 1983 when he retired.

Prime Minister

Although Shamir had a reputation as a Likud hard-liner, in 1977 he presided at the Knesset visit of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and the peace talks; in 1981 and 1982, as Foreign Minister, he guided negotiations with Egypt to normalize relations after the treaty and directed negotiations which led to the 1983 agreement with Lebanon (subsequently abrogated by the Lebanese Parliament).

His failure to stabilize Israel's inflationary economy led to an indecisive election in 1984, after which a national unity government was formed between his Likud party and the Alignment led by Shimon Peres. As part of the agreement, Peres held the post of Prime Minister until September 1986, when Shamir took over.

As he prepared to reclaim the office of prime minister, which he had held previously from October 1983 to September 1984, Shamir's hard-line image appeared to moderate. However Shamir remained reluctant to change the status quo in Israel's relations with its Arab neighbors, and blocked Peres's initiative to promote a regional peace conference as agreed in 1987 with King Hussein of Jordan in what has become known as the London Agreement. Re-elected in 1988, Shamir and Peres formed a new coalition government until "the dirty trick" of 1990, when the Alignment left the government, leaving Shamir with a narrow right-wing coalition.

In 1991 the Shamir government took part in the Madrid peace talks and ordered the rescue of thousands of Ethiopian Jews, known as Operation Solomon. The Shamir government also decided not to retaliate after the Iraqi Scud missile volleys (many of which struck Israeli population centers) during the First Gulf War. The United States urged restraint, saying Israeli attacks would jeopardize the delicate Arab-Western coalition assembled against Iraq. Although long a hard-liner, Shamir left office in 1992, after his government fell amid charges that Likud - by taking part in the Madrid Peace Conference - had effectively agreed to enter negotiations over Palestinian autonomy in the Israeli-occupied territories.

Electoral defeat and retirement

Shamir was defeated by Yitzhak Rabin's Labour in the 1992 election. He stepped down from the Likud leadership in March 1993, but remained a member of the Knesset until the 1996 election. For some time, Shamir was a critic of his Likud successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, as being too indecisive in dealing with the Arabs. Shamir went so far as to resign from the Likud in 1998 and endorse the right-wing splinter movement led by Benny Begin, Herut - The National Movement, that later joined the National Union during the 1999 election. After Netanyahu was defeated, Shamir returned to the Likud fold and supported Ariel Sharon in the 2001 election. Subsequently, in his late 80's, Shamir ceased making public comments.

Shamir's name re-emerged in the Israeli news in 2004 when his family's request for special state funding for his hospitalization in the Queen Juliana nursing home in Herzliya was turned down. Treasury officials were concerned of a precedent that would carry too heavy consequences for Israel's economy. Also, they suggested that his state pension should be used for his treatment. In June 2006 an extensive report in "Makor Rishon" reported that Shamir (then nearing his 91st birthday) no longer recognises any of his visitors.


External links

*Cite news
last = Brinkley
first = Joel
title = The stubborn strength of Yitzhak Shamir
work = New York Times
accessdate = 2008-07-09
date = 1988-08-21
url = http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DE1DB153EF932A1575BC0A96E948260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1

NAME=Shamir, Yitzhak
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Jaziernicki, Icchak
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Prime Minister of Israel
DATE OF BIRTH=15 October 1915
PLACE OF BIRTH=Różana, Poland

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