Ariel founder and long-time mayor Ron Nachman passed away on Friday at the age 70, leaving behind a legacy of Zionism and a staunch commitment to the settlement enterprise. News of Nachman's passing ushered in a series of statements from across the political spectrum, with leaders expressing sorrow over the loss.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a statement expressing "deep sorrow" at Nachman's death and calling him a "friend and partner."
"Ron was a big Zionist patriot," Netanyahu said. "I liked him a great deal. He was a visionary who built Ariel, and turned it into a thriving city in Israel. He was committed with every fiber of his being to the rebirth of the Jewish people in their land, and to building a flourishing city in Samaria."
Netanyahu said that to his last days Nachman worked to strengthen and develop Ariel, and that he when he spoke to him recently after Ariel University received its upgraded status, Nachman was deeply moved by what he saw as another achievement for settlements in Israel.
Born in 1942, Nachman studied political science and law at Tel Aviv University. He co-founded Ariel in 1978, and became the settlement's first mayor in 1985. As a member of the Likud, Nachman was elected to the Knesset in 1992 and served on a number of Knesset committees.
Outgoing Defense Minister Ehud Barak said "Ron Nachman was a leader, a stormy figure and a friend who built Ariel almost from scratch. He was a public servant, whose heart and mouth were always in line."
Tzipi Livni, who heads the party bearing her name, said "Ron Nachman fought an inspiring battle against a terrible disease, in exactly the same way he fought for his values throughout his entire life. We disagreed on many issues, but I always knew to appreciate his determination and tenacity, and his readiness to follow the truth until the end."
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said that Nachman not only dreamed of of building the land of Israel but actually accomplished it. "Ron did not build the country out of hatred or a desire to harm another nation, but rather out of love and faith, just like Israel's founders."