Israel: hardliner Shamir Jr makes his debut

At the head of Likud-Beitenu with Netanyahu and Lieberman

28 December, 18:40

(ANSAmed) - TEL AVIV, DECEMBER 28 - With political views to the right of PM Benyamin Netanyahu (who has publicly spoken in favour of the two-state solution) and more unbending than Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (who is ''a bit too pragmatic''), the 67-year-old son of hardline former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, Yair, has taken the Israeli political scene by storm.

With a brilliant career to his name in the Israeli Air Force, the Israeli Air Industry (IAI), drone and satellite manufacturing as well as the start-up and high-tech initiatives which have made Israel famous the world over, the engineer and reservist general Yair Shamir is in fourth place on the Likud-Beitenu electoral list.

Polls put the list in the lead for the January elections, expected as it is to garner between 33 and 37 seats out of the 120 total in the Knesset. Given Lieberman's judicial problems (on Sunday he will be indicted for fraud and breach of trust in the foreign ministry), Shamir Jr will be the de facto main representative of Israel Beitenu in the new political formation.

And this just two months after Yair entered politics, shortly after his father's death.

His name is a political manifesto in and of itself. 'Yair' is the nom de guerre of Avraham Stern, the commander of the clandestine armed group Lehy (also known as the Stern Gang), the ''most wanted terrorist'' of the British Mandate in Palestine, who fought alongside his father. ''Shamir'' - which means ''fennel'' to horticulturists - brings to an Israeli mind a powerful tool as mysterious as it is portentous, with which King Solomon cut the massive stones to build the Temple of Jerusalem from, according to the Talmud.

Physically, Yair Shamir is a carbon copy of his father: short, thickset, with sparkling eyes and a mustache over an oftentimes sardonic smile. Politically, he is on the same wavelength. Those who know him well add that (like his father), he is highly suspicious, speaks little and sees Israeli media ''as a necessary media''. He holds a very critical view of the judiciary, especially as concerns the handling of Lieberman's indictment. ''I am from the right'', he started out one of his first interviews. Prodded, he then went on to say that negotiating is possible with Palestinians only as concerns their ''neighbourly relations'', but absolutely not in terms of discussion of any sort of independent state, which, ''in any case, could not be constituted in such a narrow space as that between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea''.

Yair Shamir also has very clear ideas on Iran. ''We must act, not talk. Come to a silent agreement with the United States. It is obviously that we cannot continue to live under the Iranian nuclear threat. It would be impossible, a disaster.

That threat should be removed, by any means necessary.'' As to what position he would like if Netanyahu were tasked with forming a new government, Yair Shamir says he would like the Defence Ministry. However, he would be satisfied with the Education Ministry. ''For now,'' he said, ''I am not ruling anything out.'' (ANSAmed).

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