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Yitzhak Shamir: Israel's former prime minister dies at 96

Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who believed that Israel should hang on to territory and never trust an Arab regime, has died.

Yitzhak ShamirEnlarge
Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir listens to introductions before he addresses a convention of US Jewish leaders November 21, 1991 in Baltimore, Maryland. (JENNIFER LAW/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who believed that Israel should hang on to territory and never trust an Arab regime, has died. He was 96.

Israeli media said Shamir died at a nursing home in Herzliya on Saturday, and current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement mourning his death, reported the Associated Press. Barely over five feet tall with a solid build, Shamir was in power and projected an image of solidarity when Palestinians rose up in the West Bank and Gaza and demanded an end to Israeli occupation.

Shamir first served as Israel's prime minister for a year after Menachem Begin resigned suddenly in 1983, then returned to power for six years, from 1986 to 1992, according to the Washington Post. Most of his time as prime minister was dominated by the first Palestinian intifada.

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The AP also reported that he was defeated by Yitzhak Rabin in the 1992 elections and stepped down as head of the Likud party. Rabin negotiated interim land-for-peace agreements with the Palestinians.

In a 1997 interview with New York's Jewish Post, Shamir said: "The Arabs will always dream to destroy us. I do not believe that they will recognize us as part of this region."

Shamir leaves behind two children and five grandchildren, according to The Jerusalem Post. His wife, Shlomit, died last year at the age of 88. The former prime minister's funeral is expected to take place on Monday.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/israel-and-palestine/120630/yitzhak-shamir-dies-israel-former-prime-minister