Yitzhak Shamir in 1991
Ex-prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, a former soldier, spy and statesman, has died at the age of 96, Israeli officials said on Saturday. © Jennifer Law - AFP/File
Yitzhak Shamir in 1991
AFP
Last updated: June 30, 2012

Former Israeli Prime Minister Shamir dies, aged 96

Ex-prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, a former soldier, spy and statesman, has died at the age of 96, Israeli officials announced on Saturday.

"Yitzhak Shamir has left us," current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

Netanyahu "expresses his deep pain over the announcement of the departure of Yitzhak Shamir. He was part of a marvelous generation which created the state of Israel and struggled for the Jewish people," it said.

As head of the right-wing Likud bloc, which Netanyahu now leads, he served as premier from 1983 to 1984 and from 1986 to 1992. Shamir had withdrawn from public life since the mid-1990s, silenced by Alzheimer's disease.

He made his final appearance on the international stage at the 1991 Madrid international conference which led to peace talks between Israel and its Arab neighbours.

Following Likud's defeat to Labour in 1992 elections, Shamir retired from political life in 1996.

The funeral is to take place on Monday in Jerusalem, where he is to be buried alongside his wife, Shulamit, who died last July.

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