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January 13, 2014 8:00 am

Full Transcript: Eulogy by Prime Minister Netanyahu for Former Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon

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Israeli Prime Minister Netanayhu at the memorial service for Ariel Sharon. Photo: Knesset.

Below is the full transcript of remarks made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the memorial service for former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on January 13th, 2014.

“Ariel Sharon was one of the greatest military leaders of the people of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces. Arik belonged to our founding generation, the generation of our national revival. Israel’s revival depended first and foremost on a generation of Jewish leaders who reintroduced the legacy of Jewish bravery in the Land of Israel – a legacy that seemed to have vanished during our years in exile. Arik Sharon played a central role in building this legacy of bravery. He fought with the Israel Defense Forces for many years – from the War of Independence to the fateful battles of the Yom Kippur War.

“He laid the foundations for the IDF war doctrine, primarily the concept of retaliation and offensive measures in the fight against terrorism. He did so when he established Unit 101, commanding heroic fighters such as Meir Har-Zion and his comrades. Arik also personified and implemented the “outflanking doctrine” in battle. He did so when he parachuted at the Mitla Pass during the Sinai Operation and in the great outflanking maneuvers of the Six Day War. However, his maneuvering and command abilities were demonstrated primarily during the Yom Kippur War when he led the IDF forces across the Suez Canal and surrounded the Egyptian Third Army. This maneuver, under his command, reversed the direction of the battle and led to the successful conclusion of the war, which began under very difficult circumstances for the State of Israel. On those occasions, Arik demonstrated courage and resourcefulness – which filtered down to his soldiers and served to significantly embolden the fighters.

“As minister and Prime Minister he insisted on our right to defend ourselves in this region so that we can live here safely – a right we continue to defend today and which is a necessary precondition for our existence and for the achievement of peace.

“I did not always agree with Arik and he did not always agree with me. But when we served in each other’s governments we worked in cooperation for the benefit of Israel’s security and economy. Arik was a practical and pragmatic man. His pragmatism was rooted in his deep emotional ties to the State of Israel and the Jewish people. He understood all too well the essence of anti-Semitism and the need for the Jews to be masters of their own fate in a country of their own. He attributed great importance to our relations with our greatest ally, the United States, but also stood firm in defending Israel’s vital interests in times of trial.

“When the international reaction to one of the terror attacks against us seemed too conciliatory to him, he appealed to the international community and said the following: ‘Do not repeat the dreadful mistake of 1938 when enlightened democracies in Europe decided to sacrifice Czechoslovakia for a convenient temporary solution. Do not try to appease the Arabs at our expense. We will not tolerate it’. End quote.

“Arik understood that when it came to our existence and our security, we must stand firm. These are principles that we continue to safeguard. The State of Israel will continue to fight terrorism; the State of Israel will continue to strive for peace while preserving its security; and the State of Israel will make every effort to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

“Ariel Sharon will go down in history as one of Israel’s greatest military leaders and one of the greatest fighters for the people of Israel in their land.

“Arik, the people of Israel bid you farewell today. Your unique contribution to Israel’s security is etched on the pages of our nation’s history. May your memory be forever cherished in the heart of this nation.”

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