Former Israeli legislator Ilan Gilon dies at 65

Politicians from all sides of political spectrum in rare unity over sadness at the loss of a man they describe as an honest social advocate, a worthy adversary and a beloved friend

Moran Azulay|
Former Meretz legislator Ilan GIlon died on Sunday at the age of 65, after combating serious health issues.
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  • Gilon who was confined to a wheel chair after being inflicted by Polio in his youth, had suffered a series of strokes in recent years, the last one on Wednesday last week.
    3 View gallery
    Ilan Gilon
    Ilan Gilon
    Ilan Gilon
    (Photo: Barel Ephraim)
    A native of Romania, Gilon joined Meretz as a young man and spent his political career advocating for social justice and a peaceful resolution to the Palestinian conflict.
    "He was all heart, a leader of the working man and a true Zionist," his family said.
    "He was my man for 50 years, since we were kids, but he was everyman's as well," his wife said.
    Gilon was eulogized by politicians from all sides of the political spectrum, in a rare show of unity.
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he was one of the hardest working legislators that the Knesset has ever known.
    "He would work hard to solve personal problems people brought to his attention and would say that a member of the Knesset must make decisions as if he were an old, sick and poor person and not a young health and rich one," Bennett said.
    Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said Gilon's personality surpassed any political disagreements.
    3 View gallery
    אילן גילאון
    אילן גילאון
    Ilan Gilon joins mothers protest for daycare in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Shaul Golan)
    "Although we were political adversaries, we had a friendly relationship over the years," Netanyahu said. ""I could see his work was done with full faith in the justice of his ways and I respected him for that," he said.
    Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said politicians like him, were no longer found.
    "One of the best among us," Lapid said. "A public servant, an honest ideologue, a smart and funny man," he said.
    Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz said Gilon was a human being. "Ilan my love, you were a partner and a friend for many years," Horowitz said. "Ilan represents a warm Jewish family with children, grandchildren and millions of friends. In the name of the Meretz party, I send our condolences and a big hug," he said.
    3 View gallery
    Ilan Gilon joins protesters calling for disability stipends
    Ilan Gilon joins protesters calling for disability stipends
    Ilan Gilon joins protesters calling for disability stipends
    (Photo: Eli Mandelbaum)
    Shas leader Arye Deri said he was pained by Gilon's death.
    "He was a man with a huge heart who fought for the less fortunate," Deri said.
    Leader of the Religious Zionist Party Bezalel Smotrich said Gilon was a worthy adversary.
    "He was loved by all and a man of principle," Smotrich said. "He will be missed."
    Labor Pary leader Merav Michaeli quoted Gilon who said "unfortunately we can not pass a law forcing people to be good human beings."
    "Ilan would try to make every law better," she said. "he was sharp and smart and totally committed. He was full of love for this country, its public and for his friends and family. Just full of love which he spread far and wide," she said.
    "Ilan fought ferociously against those who set out to destroy everything he loved about Israel. He was a leader and an effective politician in the best sense of the word," Michaeli said.
    Blue and White party legislator Hili Trooper said Gilon's legacy is that humanity must come before politics.
    President Issac Herzog called Gilon a loved friend and a decisive public servant and social advocate.
    "I will always remember him as a value driven leader, an honest man who was loyal to his ideas and loved by all," Herzog said.

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