PM pays tribute to Ze'evi: He put nation first

Netanyahu, Rivlin, Mofaz mark 11th year since assassination of former tourism minister by PFLP terrorists in 2001.

Rehavam Zeevi 370 (photo credit: reuters)
Rehavam Zeevi 370
(photo credit: reuters)
Israel will not give up the search for its missing soldiers, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday at the Knesset ceremony in memory of former tourism minister Rehavam “Gandhi” Ze’evi, who was assassinated 11 years ago.
Netanyahu recalled that Ze’evi would wear a dog tag around his neck with the names of missing soldiers.
Mentioning Ron Arad, the IAF navigator who has been missing since 1986, Netanyahu said: “We will not give up on any of the missing soldiers. It may take years, but in the end we will bring them all back and know their fate.”
Ze’evi was a Palmah fighter and IDF major-general who founded the Moledet party in 1988, which was known for advocating a “transfer” of Palestinians out of Israel.
He was shot in 2001 at the Jerusalem Hyatt Hotel by gunmen from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and died of his wounds.
Netanyahu paid tribute to Ze’evi’s steadfastness and strong ideals, saying the minister’s “vision stayed with him from birth until the end of his days. He was not afraid, and believed he was continuing the legacy of the Maccabees.”
“Gandhi set very high standards for himself and was not afraid to take the most difficult path,” the prime minister said.
“Even those who did not agree with Gandhi respected him for putting the good of the nation first.”
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said: “Gandhi’s integrity, a rare commodity in today’s politics, is missing, as is his clear ideological voice as is his leadership.”
According to Rivlin, Ze’evi was a pragmatist and not a dreamer. “Even those who never agreed with his fundamental, difficult and controversial stances could not ignore his arguments,” the Knesset speaker stated.
Opposition leader Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) recounted his experience serving as a young officer under Ze’evi’s command, when the latter was OC Central Command.
“I met Gandhi for the first time in 1968, when we were chasing terrorists in the Jordan Valley,” Mofaz recalled. “He always ran in front of us. I always remember how the general was not in the war room; he was in the field with us.”
According to Mofaz, Ze’evi was murdered because he was “a symbol of a proud Israel, the historic homeland of the Jewish people, fighting its enemies in order to ensure its existence forever and ever.”
MK Uri Ariel (National Union) spoke of his “teacher and rabbi,” who was concerned about every citizen and the Jewish people’s right to the Land of Israel.
“The connection of the nation to its land was the basis of Gandhi’s ideology,” Ariel said. “His voice echoes in the hammers banging and tractors working to put stone upon stone for Jews in Israel.”
In the 11 years since Ze’evi’s assassination, Ariel added, “it has become clear that his ideology, which was often called extreme, has resonated with more and more people, and I’m sure this will continue.”