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Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks at the start of the Cabinet meeting today (Sunday, 1 July 2012):
I ask that we stand for a minute of silence in memory of Yitzhak Shamir, the seventh Prime Minister of the State of Israel.
I would like to say a few words about Yitzhak Shamir. I would like to begin with a story that says much about Yitzhak Shamir. One day, as he sat here in the Prime Minister's office, a delegation of Likud members arrived and they sought to advance the candidacy of one of our members for a certain post. This was in the afternoon. Yitzhak Shamir welcomed them, saw a large group in the middle of the day and told them 'What are you doing here? Go to work.' This says everything about the man - blunt, a man of truth, simple, direct and, of course, with great inner strength.
Yitzhak Shamir was from the generation of giants that established the State of Israel. He dedicated his life and all his might to ensuring the existence of the state, the freedom of the Jewish people, the security of Israel's citizens and the ingathering of the exiles.
It is important to know that Shamir had a decisive role in directing hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the former Soviet Union to the Land of Israel. He worked urgently with the American administration in order to ensure that the first transit station would be in the Land of Israel, in the State of Israel. He said, 'Come here first. Choose after you have seen the choice here' - and there is no doubt that with this stubbornness, he changed the fate of the country because, to a large extent, he made sure that this welcome immigration, with all its strength, came here. And we see that he was right, that the decisive majority stayed here.
He was also responsible for the immigration of 15,000 Jews from Ethiopia in one operation, which also expressed his deep commitment to the Zionist idea, to the Jewish future, and he was, of course, very forthright in his approach to the diplomatic issue. He went to Madrid, but he knew how to utilize his strength and his ideological resolve regarding the Land of Israel. He also knew to go toward the peace process - I attended that conference. I saw his actions and his decisions - he was very sagacious. I think he was a man who really saw the good of the country as he understood it and acted for the good of the country as he understood it.
Today we have lost a true Jewish patriot and one of the Jewish people's solid leaders. He may not have been especially charismatic, but he simply had inner strength and this, in my opinion, is more important than anything else. I think that it is proper that we honor the memory of Yitzhak Shamir, one of the founders of the State of Israel and one of its most dedicated leaders ever.