Yitzhak Shamir (1915- ) was a leading Likud party figure and served as prime minister from 1983-1984 and again from 1986-1992.
Shamir was born in Ruzinoy, Poland where he was an active member of Jabotinsky’s Betar Zionist youth movement. When he turned 20, he left his law studies in Warsaw to move to Palestine, which was then under British rule, and enrolled in Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
He became involved with such Jewish paramilitary groups as the Irgun (“Etzel”) and “Lehi,” and was subsequently imprisoned by British authorities for his activities. In 1943, he escaped from the detention camp where he was being held and became a leading figure in Lehi.
In 1946, Shamir was again detained by the British and sent to a prison camp in Eritrea. In 1947, he escaped and later found political asylum in France. He returned to Israel and resumed his leadership position with Lehi, until it disbanded in 1949.
In the mid-1950s, Shamir joined Israel’s security services. In the mid-1960s he joined Menachem Begin’s Herut
movement, which later would become the modern Likud party.
In 1973, Shamir was elected to the Knesset for the first time, as a member of Likud, and served on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. In 1977, after being reelected, he served as Knesset Speaker. In 1980, Shamir became foreign minister in the Begin government following the resignation of Moshe Dayan.
In October 1983, Shamir succeeded Begin as prime minister, and following the 1984 elections, he became vice premier in a national unity government formed with the Labor Party. In the arrangement that lasted until the 1988 elections, Labor and Likud figures rotated as prime minister.
Following the 1988 elections, Shamir again created a national unity government with Labor, but this government fell in 1990 due to a no-confidence vote in the Knesset. Shamir, however, managed to create a narrow coalition government.
In May 1991, Prime Minister Shamir ordered an airlift operation to rescue thousands of Ethiopian Jews. In September 1991, Shamir attended the Madrid Peace Conference.
Following the victory of the Labor Party, led by Yitzhak Rabin,
in the 1992 elections, Shamir resigned as Likud chairman, and in 1996 he retired from the Knesset.