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Ex-Israeli PM Yitzhak Shamir buried

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iol news pic Yitzhak Shamir funeral

REUTERS

Members of the Knesset guard carry the flag draped coffin of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir during his funeral at the Mount Hertzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem July 2, 2012. Shamir, the hawkish Israeli leader who two decades ago first balked at U.S. calls to trade occupied land for Middle East peace, died on Saturday after a long illness. He was 96. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Jerusalem -Former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir was buried in Jerusalem Monday, in a ceremony attended by state leaders and dignitaries.

Shamir, who served as prime minister from 1983 to 1984 and 1986 to 1992, died Saturday night at age 96.

He was buried at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl cemetery, in the section reserved for Israeli leaders and heroes.

Speak1ing at the funeral, President Shimon Peres eulogized his one-time fierce political rival as “a fighter. For his people, his country, and for his path.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who began his political career when Shamir was premier, said that “Israel and the Jewish people always stood at the head of (Shamir's) interests.”

Shamir's son Yair, his voice occasionally choking with emotion, said his father had hoped to be remembered by history as “a man who loved his country and loved his people.”

Wrapped in the blue and white Israeli flag, Shamir's coffin was transported to Mount Herzl in solemn procession, after it had lain in state at the parliament building on Monday morning.

Hundreds of Israelis passed by the casket, to pay their final respects.

An uncompromising hard-liner, but also seen as principled and forthright, disdaining public relations and political gimmicks, Shamir made no secret of his distrust of Israel's Arab neighbours and believed Israel should hang onto the territory captured in the 1967 war.

Despite his hawkish reputation, he gave in to US pressure not to react when Saddam Hussein's Iraq fired Scud missiles at Israel in the 1991 Gulf War.

He also attended the ground-breaking 1991 Madrid peace conference between Israel and Arab countries, after intense US pressure.

Short in stature, and exuding an aura of iron determination, Shamir was born Yizhak Yzernitzky in Poland in 1915, and immigrated to the then-British Mandate of Palestine in 1935.

In Palestine, he joined the militant anti-British Irgun Tzvai Leumi (National Military Organization, also known by the Hebrew acronym Etzel), but in 1940 broke away with several others to form the more-militant Stern Group.

He was one of the group's three leaders. That trio authorized the 1948 assassination of UN Middle East representative Count Folke Bernadotte, an action which outraged the world. - Sapa-dpa


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