Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu eulogized Israel's seventh Prime Minister, the late Yitzchak Shamir on Sunday, and commented on his famous statement, “The Arabs are the same Arabs and the sea is the same sea.”
The late prime minister died on Shabbat, after having suffered in the past ten years from Alzheimer's disease. His funeral is expected to take place on Monday.
Shamir, who passed away at age 96, was known for making blunt statements, said the prime minister in his opening comments to the Cabinet meeting.
At the time, the former prime minister's undiplomatic statement about Arabs prompted widespread criticism.
However, “Regarding his statements about neighbors, about the separation between the sea and the land – it could be that these remarks, which invoked strong criticism, even contempt – today, there are certainly many more people who understand that this man saw and understood fundamental and genuine things and never bent either himself or the truth to fit the fashion of the time," Netanyahu told the Cabinet.
"Therefore, I think that it is proper that we honor him in meetings, at tomorrow's ceremony, and at special meetings to be held today, the memory of Yitzhak Shamir, one of the founders of the State of Israel and one of its most dedicated leaders ever."
President Shimon Peres likewise issued a statement in which he said, "Yitzhak Shamir was a brave warrior for Israel, before and after its inception. He was a great patriot and his enormous contribution will be forever etched in our chronicles.
"He was loyal to his beliefs and he served his country with the utmost dedication for decades. May he rest in peace."