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(photo credit: AP [file])
"Teddy was Jerusalem and Jerusalem was Teddy. In his spirit and personality, he represented the true uniqueness of the capital of the State of Israel," Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski said after news of Teddy Kollek's death was reported.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who defeated Kollek as Jerusalem's mayor in 1993, issued a statement saying that Israel mourned the loss of "one of the giants of its founding fathers."
Olmert, who characterized Kollek as "the builder of the new Jerusalem after the Six Day War," noted that when Kollek was elected Jerusalem's mayor in 1965, it "was a divided city that did not enjoy the credit it was worthy of. When he finished his term in 1993, Jerusalem was a large, modern city, united and blessed with many residents. Teddy Kollek spread Jerusalem's fame around the world."
Olmert said that Kollek had a deciding influence on Jerusalem's way of life, culture, and inter-relationship between its residents. He fashioned its vistas, Olmert said, and built its institutions.
"Kollek's name will forever be a part of the glory of Jerusalem," he said.
Olmert said that Kollek did not only work on behalf of Jerusalem, and cited his days as David Ben-Gurion's long-time adviser during which he "had a decisive contribution to the diplomatic and military efforts that brought about Israel's independence in 1948."
Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik said, "The Knesset is bowing its head in memory of Teddy Kollek, the builder of Jerusalem, the man who dedicated his life to the city.
His greatness lies not only in what he did but also what he prevented, namely the turning of Jerusalem into a violent place in which Jews and Arabs target each other. His actions will be forever engraved in the history of this historic city."
Former president Yitzhak Navon, who was a close friend of Kollek and a fellow party member at RAFI, told Army Radio about Kollek's deeds, for the city and country. He said Kollek spoke of tourism to the city when no one had even dreamed about it.
"I think he always spoke from his heart. Even when he said 'no', he did it out of compassion and respect for the other. He had a character trait that even if he became upset, he would send a small gift with an apology the following day," Navon said.
President of the Jerusalem Foundation, Ruth Cheshin, also mourned Kollek's passing. "The Jerusalem Foundation mourns the passing of its founder. A unique and special man, who saw all residents of the city, Christian, Jew and Muslim as equal partners and wanted to make the city into a beacon of hope for all its residents. Teddy Kollek was a close friend who will not be forgotten."
Defense Minister Amir Peretz issued the following statement: "Teddy was a symbol of this nation's building and the cohesion of Jerusalem. He set a personal example to all public figures."
Likud MK Yuval Steinitz said: "Teddy Kollek is the real Mr. Jerusalem and no doubt the best mayor the city has ever had. Mayors who came after him have not yet been able to spoil all the good he has done."
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