by Israel Hayom Staff
Netanyahu: "He did great things to bolster Israel's stature. … There was no patriot greater than Arens, and his immense contribution to our state will live on forever."
Photo: Oren Ben Hakoon
Moshe Arens, a prominent Likud member who served in various ministerial positions and as Israel's ambassador the United States, died early Monday morning at 93.
Arens was born in Lithuania in 1925 and moved to the United States in 1939. After serving in the U.S. Army, he moved to the Jewish state shortly after its founding in the late 1940s.
Entering the Knesset in 1974, he quickly became a prominent Likud lawmaker and served in various high-profile positions in Israeli politics.
Arens' ally early in his career was fellow Likud MK Yitzhak Shamir (who would go on to serve four terms as prime minister). Both shared a hawkish ideological view and opposition to the peace treaty Egypt in 1979. A year later, when then Prime Minister Menachem Begin offered Arens the defense portfolio, he refused, saying he didn't want to be in charge of dismantling Jewish settlements in the Sinai Peninsula as part of the peace treaty.
In 1982, he was tapped for the position of ambassador to the United States, and in 1983 he became defense minister after Ariel Sharon had to step down over his conduct in Operation Peace for the Galilee. Arens is credited for revamping the Israel Defense Forces by creating a joint command for the ground forces.
As defense minister, he also pushed forward the IAI Lavi project, which would have allowed Israel to manufacture its own fighter jet. Although the project was ultimately terminated before completion, it helped Israel obtain important technological know-how.
He would go on to serve as a minister without portfolio (in charge of minority affairs) and then foreign minister before returning to the Defense Ministry in 1990. As defense minister during the first Gulf War in 1991, he pushed for more active Israeli involvement, with the goal of stopping Iraq's missile attacks on Israeli territory.
Arens studied aeronautical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and ultimately became a professor at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. He was also awarded the Israel Defense Prize.
Upon his death, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying: "My wife Sara and I are deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Moshe Arens." Netanyahu said that Arens, who appointed him as a senior official at the Israeli Embassy in Washington in 1982 and effectively launched his political career, "did great things to bolster Israel's stature." Netanyahu said that "there was no patriot greater than Arens, and his immense contribution to our state will live on forever. I loved you like a son loves his father."
Israel Hayom Staff
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