Israel’s Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, “John McCain was an American hero and a unique person. We will always remember him as a great friend of Israel. May he rest in peace.”
– WATCH: PM Netanyahu eulogizes John McCain.
By GIL HOFFMAN
Knesset members from across the political spectrum praised the late American Senator John McCain, who died Saturday, as a close friend of the Jewish state.
“The State of Israel salutes John McCain,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday in response to the death of the long-time US senator. Netanyahu called McCain a “great American patriot and a true friend of Israel.”
Netanyahu, on the last day of a visit to Lithuania, issued a statement saying that he will always “appreciate in my heart his strong friendship toward Israel and toward me personally. His consistent support for Israel flowed from his faith in the principles of democracy and freedom.”
“John McCain was an American hero and a unique person,” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said. “We will always remember him as a great friend of Israel. May he rest in peace.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked wrote (Bayit Yehudi) on Twitter in English that “John McCain was a true patriot and a true friend of Israel.” She added in a statement in Hebrew that “McCain was an American hero who refused release from captivity in Vietnam until his fellow soldiers were released as well” and that “in his 36 years in the House and Senate, Israeli governments always knew that they had a friend.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) recalled that in one of their last meetings in Washington, McCain showed him a photograph from his time in captivity.
“He told me that throughout his horrible suffering, he never had doubts about his values of freedom and justice,” Liberman said.
Former justice minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) said McCain’s death was “a great loss to America and its allies.”
“John McCain was not only an American hero, but a hero to many all over the world,” opposition leader Tzipi Livni wrote on Twitter. “Standing up for his values, he showed us the way a true leader should act. Honorable and courageous. Israel is grateful for his support. We will all miss the great man that he was.”
Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah called McCain “an American hero, a model of integrity and a true friend of Israel.” He praised McCain’s sense of humor, wisdom and values.
“This is what a private figure should be,” Shelah said.
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter (Likud), who met regularly with McCain, who was his counterpart in the Senate, called him “a smart, sharp thinker, who was determined on matters of security and was always fascinating.”
Dichter said McCain was a big supporter of legislation that cut the amount of aid to the Palestinian Authority that the PA gives to terrorists and their families, which passed into law in the US before a similar bill passed in Israel with McCain’s strong encouragement.
“McCain served his country in and out of uniform for over 60 years, with unending loyalty and dedicationand was a national symbol,” former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon wrote on Twitter. “McCain was a true friend of Israel and had a deep understanding of our national security issues. This reflected in his huge contribution to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge through years of assistance and hard work.”
Herb Keinon contributed to this report
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