On June 30 2012 Israel's seventh prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir, died at the age of 96. Born in Poland, Shamir immigrated to Palestine in 1935. He was a member of the Lehi (Stern group) underground movement and later served in the Mossad (Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations). After going into politics, Shamir was elected to the Knesset (Israel's parliament) in 1973, representing the Likud. He served as speaker of the Knesset from 1977 and in 1980 became foreign minister in the government of Menachem Begin. On Begin's retirement he became prime minister in 1983. After the elections in 1984 he served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister in the government of Shimon Peres, becoming prime minister again in 1986 according to the rotation agreement with Peres. He was reelected in 1988, serving until 1992.
After the decision to bomb the Iraqi nuclear reactor in June 1981, Foreign Minister Shamir took part in the campaign to explain Israel's action. Although he had abstained in the Knesset vote on the Camp David Accords and the peace treaty with Egypt, Shamir led the negotiations on the normalization process with Egypt. In 1987, as prime minister, he blocked Foreign Minister Shimon Peres' initiative for a regional peace conference in the London Agreement with King Hussein of Jordan. Nevertheless after the first Gulf War in 1991, when he maintained a policy of restraint despite Iraqi rocket attacks designed to draw Israel into the war, Shamir reluctantly agreed that Israel should take part in the Madrid Conference.
To mark the passing of Yitzhak Shamir, the Israel State Archives presents a selection of documents from its collections on his activity as foreign minister and prime minister of Israel. The documents were specially declassified for this publication.
All the links given here are to documents in English; those in Hebrew can be seen on our Hebrew website.
1. Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir to Foreign Ministers Abroad, Jerusalem, 9 June 1981
The background to Israel's decision to attack the nuclear reactor in Iraq.
2. Exchange of Correspondence between Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and US President Ronald Reagan, 13 October 1983; 9 November 1983
Condolences following the bombing of the US Marines barracks in Beirut.
3. Record of a Meeting between Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and US Ambassador Thomas Pickering, 22 April 1987
Israel's opposition to an international conference on the Middle East.
4. US President Ronald Reagan to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, 24 April 1987
US support for an international conference on the Middle East as a step towards direct negotiations.
5. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to Secretary of State George Shultz, 13 May 1987
Differences in the views of Israel and the US on the issue of an international conference following the "London Agreement".
6. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to Secretary of State George Shultz, 15 May 1987, (English version)
7. Memorandum Prepared by the Prime Minister's Office: The International Conference and the Plan of Foreign Minister Peres (the "London Agreement"), 1 June 1987
Why Israel cannot agree to an international conference.
7A. Understanding between the Government of Jordan and the Foreign Minister of Israel (the London Agreement), 11 April 1987