Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir Dead At 96
Shamir was a hardliner who had a deep distrust of Arabs’ intentions.
Shamir succeeded Menahem Begin as prime minister in 1983 in the aftermath of Israel’s disastrous 1982 invasion of Lebanon.
His term was marked by the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation, and the 1991 Gulf war, when Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel.
During the Gulf war, Shamir went along with American demands not to retaliate for the Iraqi missile strikes. After the war, the United States stepped up pressure to start a Middle East process that could lead in only one direction — compromise with the Arabs.
Exasperated by Shamir’s stubborn refusal to go along with their plans for a regional settlement, then-U.S. Secretary of State James Baker once went on television, recited the switchboard number of the White House and told Shamir to call when he got serious about peace.
In the end, American pressure bent even Shamir. Despite his deep mistrust of Arab intentions, he agreed to attend the 1991 Middle East peace conference in Madrid, sponsored by the United States and Russia.
Shamir hotly rejected the deals his successors made with the Palestinians, in which Israel turned over control of some West Bank land to the Palestinians.