Yitzhak Shamir
Overview
 
is a former Israeli politician, the seventh Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Israel
The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel . The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala is in Jerusalem...

 of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, in 1983–84 and 1986–92.
Icchak Jeziernicky (later Yitzhak Shamir) was born in Ruzhany
Ruzhany
Ruzhany is a small town located in Pruzhany Raion of Brest Voblast, Belarus.-Geography:Ruzhany is situated on the river Ruzhanka and surrounded by picturesque hills...

 , Russian Empire (now Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

). He studied at a Hebrew High School in Białystok, Poland. As a youth he joined Betar, the Revisionist Zionist
Revisionist Zionism
Revisionist Zionism is a nationalist faction within the Zionist movement. It is the founding ideology of the non-religious right in Israel, and was the chief ideological competitor to the dominant socialist Labor Zionism...

 youth movement. He studied at the law faculty of Warsaw University, but cut his studies short to immigrate to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine.
Quotations

Our image has undergone change from David fighting Goliath to being Goliath.

Daily Telegraph London, (25 January, 1989).

Encyclopedia
is a former Israeli politician, the seventh Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Israel
The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel . The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala is in Jerusalem...

 of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, in 1983–84 and 1986–92.

Biography

Icchak Jeziernicky (later Yitzhak Shamir) was born in Ruzhany
Ruzhany
Ruzhany is a small town located in Pruzhany Raion of Brest Voblast, Belarus.-Geography:Ruzhany is situated on the river Ruzhanka and surrounded by picturesque hills...

 , Russian Empire (now Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

). He studied at a Hebrew High School in Białystok, Poland. As a youth he joined Betar, the Revisionist Zionist
Revisionist Zionism
Revisionist Zionism is a nationalist faction within the Zionist movement. It is the founding ideology of the non-religious right in Israel, and was the chief ideological competitor to the dominant socialist Labor Zionism...

 youth movement. He studied at the law faculty of Warsaw University, but cut his studies short to immigrate to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. In 1935, after settling in Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

, he Hebraized
Hebraization of surnames
The Hebraization of surnames is the process of adopting Hebrew family names ....

 his surname to Shamir. In 1944 he married Shulamit Shamir (1923 – July 29, 2011), whom he met in a detention camp. Shulamit immigrated
Aliyah
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel . It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology. The opposite action, emigration from Israel, is referred to as yerida . The return to the Holy Land has been a Jewish aspiration since the Babylonian exile...

 to Mandate Palestine from Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 on a rickety boat in 1941 and was sent to prison because she entered the country illegally. They had two children, Yair and Gilada. Shulamit died on July 29, 2011.

Zionist activism

Shamir joined the Irgun Zvai Leumi
Irgun
The Irgun , or Irgun Zevai Leumi to give it its full title , was a Zionist paramilitary group that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948. It was an offshoot of the earlier and larger Jewish paramilitary organization haHaganah...

, a Zionist militant group that opposed British control of Palestine. When Irgun split in 1940, Shamir joined the more militant faction, National Military Organization in Israel
Lehi (group)
Lehi , commonly referred to in English as the Stern Group or Stern Gang, was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine...

, also known as the Stern Gang, headed by Avraham Stern
Avraham Stern
Avraham Stern , alias Yair was a Jewish paramilitary leader who founded and led the militant Zionist organization later known as Lehi .-Early life:Stern was born in Suwałki, Poland...

. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the group secretly contacted Nazi representatives in Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

, offering to attack the British in the Middle East in return for safe passage of the Jewish population of Europe to Palestine and the establishment of a Jewish state.

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, serving with Nathan Yellin-Mor
Nathan Yellin-Mor
Nathan Yellin-Mor was a Revisionist Zionist activist, Lehi leader and Israeli politician. In his later years, he became a radical pacifist who supported negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization and big concessions in the Israeli-Arab conflict....

 and Israel Eldad
Israel Eldad
Israel Eldad , was a noted Israeli independence fighter and Revisionist Zionist philosopher...

. The group was reformed and renamed Lehi
Lehi (group)
Lehi , commonly referred to in English as the Stern Group or Stern Gang, was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine...

. Shamir sought to emulate the anti-British struggle of the Irish Republicans and took the nickname "Michael" for Irish Republican leader Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...

. In October 1944, he was exiled and interned in Africa
Irgun and Lehi internment in Africa
From 1944 to 1948, Irgun and Lehi men being held without trial at the Latroun concentration camp were deported by the British Mandate of Palestine authorities to internment camps in Africa, located in Sembel , Carthago, Sudan, and Gilgil...

 by British Mandatory authorities. He made an attempt to escape from one of the camps by hiding in a water tank. He was returned, along with the other detainees, after the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948. Shortly after Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 was established as a Jewish state, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

 broke out. Israel's provisional government initially relied on its paramilitary organizations (including Lehi) to fight against the Arabs, but soon established the Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

.

During the war, Lehi distanced itself from government control. Shamir, Eldad and Yellin-Mor authorized the assassination of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 representative in the Middle East, Count Folke Bernadotte
Folke Bernadotte
Folke Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg was a Swedish diplomat and nobleman noted for his negotiation of the release of about 31,000 prisoners from German concentration camps during World War II, including 450 Danish Jews from Theresienstadt released on 14 April 1945...

 during a truce. Bernadotte was seen by Shamir and his colleagues as anAnti-Zionist
Anti-Zionism
Anti-Zionism is opposition to Zionistic views or opposition to the state of Israel. The term is used to describe various religious, moral and political points of view in opposition to these, but their diversity of motivation and expression is sufficiently different that "anti-Zionism" cannot be...

 and "an obvious agent of the British enemy". Lehi also feared that Israel would agree to Bernadotte's peace proposals, which they considered dangerous, unaware that the provisional Israeli government had already rejected a proposal by Bernadotte the day before. The Israeli provisional government forcibly disbanded Lehi.

In 1955, Shamir joined the Mossad
Mossad
The Mossad , short for HaMossad leModi'in uleTafkidim Meyuchadim , is the national intelligence agency of Israel....

, Israel's external intelligence service, serving until 1965.

Political career

In 1969, Shamir joined the Herut
Herut
Herut was the major right-wing political party in Israel from the 1940s until its formal merger into Likud in 1988, and an adherent of Revisionist Zionism.-History:...

 party headed by Menachem Begin
Menachem Begin
' was a politician, founder of Likud and the sixth Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Before independence, he was the leader of the Zionist militant group Irgun, the Revisionist breakaway from the larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah. He proclaimed a revolt, on 1 February 1944,...

 and was first elected to the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

 in 1973 as a member of the Likud
Likud
Likud is the major center-right political party in Israel. It was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin in an alliance with several right-wing and liberal parties. Likud's victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country's political history, marking the first time the left had...

. He became Speaker of the Knesset in 1977, and foreign minister
Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel
The Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel is the political head of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The position is one of the most important in the Israeli cabinet after Prime Minister and Defense Minister...

 in 1980, before succeeding Begin as prime minister in 1983 when he retired.

Prime Minister

Shamir had a reputation as a Likud
Likud
Likud is the major center-right political party in Israel. It was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin in an alliance with several right-wing and liberal parties. Likud's victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country's political history, marking the first time the left had...

 hard-liner. In 1977 he presided at the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

 visit of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat
Anwar Sadat
Muhammad Anwar al-Sadat was the third President of Egypt, serving from 15 October 1970 until his assassination by fundamentalist army officers on 6 October 1981...

. He abstained in the Knesset votes to approve the Camp David Accords
Camp David Accords
The Camp David Accords were signed by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on September 17, 1978, following thirteen days of secret negotiations at Camp David. The two framework agreements were signed at the White House, and were witnessed by United States...

 and the Peace Treaty with Egypt. In 1981 and 1982, as Foreign Minister, he guided negotiations with Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 to normalize relations after the treaty. Following the 1982 Lebanon War
1982 Lebanon War
The 1982 Lebanon War , , called Operation Peace for Galilee by Israel, and later known in Israel as the Lebanon War and First Lebanon War, began on 6 June 1982, when the Israel Defense Forces invaded southern Lebanon...

 he directed negotiations which led to the May 17, 1983 Agreement
May 17 Agreement
The May 17 Agreement of 1983 was a failed U.S.-backed attempt to create peace between Lebanon and Israel during the Lebanese Civil War, after Israel invaded Lebanon and besieged Beirut in 1982...

  agreement with Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, which did not materialize.

His failure to stabilize Israel's inflationary economy and to suggest a solution to the quagmire of Lebanon led to an indecisive election in 1984
Israeli legislative election, 1984
Elections for the eleventh Knesset were held in Israel on 23 July 1984. Voter turnout was 78.8%. The results saw the Alignment return to being the largest party in the Knesset, a status it had lost in 1977...

, after which a national unity government
National unity government
A national unity government, government of national unity, or national union government is a broad coalition government consisting of all parties in the legislature, usually formed during a time of war or other national emergency.- Canada :During World War I the Conservative government of Sir...

 was formed between his Likud
Likud
Likud is the major center-right political party in Israel. It was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin in an alliance with several right-wing and liberal parties. Likud's victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country's political history, marking the first time the left had...

 party and the Alignment
Alignment (political party)
The Alignment was an alliance of the major left-wing parties in Israel between the 1960s and 1990s. It was established in 1965 as an alliance of Mapai and Ahdut HaAvoda but was dissolved three years later when the two parties and Rafi formally merged into the Israeli Labor Party...

 led by Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
GCMG is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years...

. 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
Peres-Hussein London Agreement
The London Agreement between King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Shimon Peres, was signed during a secret meeting held at the residence of Lord Mishcon in London on April 11, 1987...

. Re-elected in 1988
Israeli legislative election, 1988
Elections for the twelfth Knesset were held in Israel on 1 November 1988. Voter turnout was 79.7%.-Results:1 Five members of the Likud left to form the Party for the Advancement of the Zionist Idea; after two returned, the party was renamed the New Liberal Party...

, Shamir and Peres formed a new coalition government until "the dirty trick
The dirty trick (Israel)
The dirty trick refers to a political scandal that erupted in Israel in 1990. It consisted of an attempt by Shimon Peres to form a narrow government made up of the left-wing factions and the ultra-orthodox parties...

" of 1990, when the Alignment left the government, leaving Shamir with a narrow right-wing coalition.

During the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 fired Scud
Scud
Scud is a series of tactical ballistic missiles developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and exported widely to other countries. The term comes from the NATO reporting name SS-1 Scud which was attached to the missile by Western intelligence agencies...

 missiles at Israel, many of which struck population centers. Iraq hoped to provoke Israeli retaliation and thus alienate Arab members of the United States-assembled coalition against Iraq. Shamir deployed Israeli Air Force
Israeli Air Force
The Israeli Air Force is the air force of the State of Israel and the aerial arm of the Israel Defense Forces. It was founded on May 28, 1948, shortly after the Israeli Declaration of Independence...

 jets to patrol the northern airspace with Iraq, but recalled the jets and decided not to retaliate after the United States urged restraint, claiming that Israeli attacks would jeopardize the delicate Arab-Western coalition. In May 1991, as the Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

n government of Mengistu Haile Mariam
Mengistu Haile Mariam
Mengistu Haile Mariam is a politician who was formerly the most prominent officer of the Derg, the Communist military junta that governed Ethiopia from 1974 to 1987, and the President of the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia from 1987 to 1991...

 was collapsing, Shamir ordered the airlifting of thousands of Ethiopian Jews
Beta Israel
Beta Israel Israel, Ge'ez: ቤተ እስራኤል - Bēta 'Isrā'ēl, modern Bēte 'Isrā'ēl, EAE: "Betä Ǝsraʾel", "Community of Israel" also known as Ethiopian Jews , are the names of Jewish communities which lived in the area of Aksumite and Ethiopian Empires , nowadays divided between Amhara and Tigray...

, known as Operation Solomon
Operation Solomon
Operation Solomon was a 1991 covert Israeli military operation to take Ethiopian Jews to Israel.In 1991, the sitting Ethiopian government of Mengistu Haile Mariam was close to being toppled with the recent military successes of Eritrean and Tigrean rebels, threatening Ethiopia with dangerous...

.

Relations with the US were strained in the period after the war over the Madrid peace talks, which Shamir opposed. As a result, US President George H.W. Bush was reluctant to approve loan guarantees to help absorb immigrants from the former Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. Finally, Shamir gave in and in October 1991 participated in the Madrid talks. His narrow, right-wing government collapsed as a result over the participation of Palestinians from the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 and Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

, and new elections were called.

Electoral defeat and retirement

Shamir was defeated by Yitzhak Rabin
Yitzhak Rabin
' was an Israeli politician, statesman and general. He was the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, serving two terms in office, 1974–77 and 1992 until his assassination in 1995....

's Labour in the 1992 election
Israeli legislative election, 1992
Elections for the thirteenth Knesset were held in Israel on 23 June 1992. The result was a victory for the left, led by Yitzhak Rabin's Labor Party, though their win was at least partially due to several small right-wing parties narrowly failing to cross the electoral threshold and thus effectively...

. 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
Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is the current Prime Minister of Israel. He serves also as the Chairman of the Likud Party, as a Knesset member, as the Health Minister of Israel, as the Pensioner Affairs Minister of Israel and as the Economic Strategy Minister of Israel.Netanyahu is the first and, to...

, 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
National Union (Israel)
The National Union is an alliance of nationalist political parties in Israel. In the 2009 elections the National Union consisted of four parties: Moledet, Hatikva, Eretz Yisrael Shelanu, and Tkuma.-Background:...

  during the 1999 election. After Netanyahu was defeated, Shamir returned to the Likud fold and supported Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon is an Israeli statesman and retired general, who served as Israel’s 11th Prime Minister. He has been in a permanent vegetative state since suffering a stroke on 4 January 2006....

 in the 2001 election. Subsequently, in his late eighties, Shamir ceased making public comments.

In 2004, Shamir's health declined and he was moved to a nursing home. The government turned down a request by the family to finance his stay at the facility. In June 2006 Makor Rishon
Makor Rishon
Makor Rishon is an Israeli daily newspaper, identified with conservative national and religious values.It is published in Tel Aviv; most of its readership is made up of paying subscribers. During the week, Makor Rishon is published in tabloid format...

reported that Shamir (then nearing his 91st birthday) no longer recognized visitors.

Awards

In 2001, Shamir received the Israel Prize
Israel Prize
The Israel Prize is an award handed out by the State of Israel and is largely regarded as the state's highest honor. It is presented annually, on Israeli Independence Day, in a state ceremony in Jerusalem, in the presence of the President, the Prime Minister, the Knesset chairperson, and the...

, for his lifetime achievements and special contribution to society and the State of Israel.
According to Israeli politician Ruby Rivlin, Shamir was "an honest politician who performed his duties with utter integrity." Former head of Israeli Mossad
Mossad
The Mossad , short for HaMossad leModi'in uleTafkidim Meyuchadim , is the national intelligence agency of Israel....

, Shabtai Shavit
Shabtai Shavit
Shabtai Shavit was the Director General of the Mossad from 1989 to 1996.Shavit first joined the Israel Defense Forces, where he served in the Sayeret Matkal and from 1958 to 1959 he was the Military Governor of the Southern Command...

, calls him a "remarkably honest man."

In 2005, he was voted the 29th-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet
Ynet
Ynet is the most popular Israeli news and general content website. It is owned by the same conglomerate that operates Yediot Ahronot, the country's secondleading daily newspaper...

to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.

Published works

He has written Sikumo shel davar, published in English in 1994 by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, as Summing Up: an autobiography.

External links

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