Tributes poured in on Sunday morning from Israeli politicians from across the political spectrum following the death of Senator John McCain on Saturday.
McCain was a force to be reckoned with, he was a war hero, fierce fighter pilot and also spent five years as prisoner of war in Vietnam during the latter part of the 60s. Although he lost the presidential elections twice, he was described by many as a man of integrity, “a national symbol” and a “friend of Israel.”
He was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor in July 2017 and had been undergoing medical treatment, but on Friday his family announced that McCain, who left Washington in December, had decided to stop treatment.
Following his death, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “deeply saddened by the passing of John McCain, a great American patriot and a great supporter of Israel. I will always treasure the constant friendship he showed to the people of Israel and to me personally.”
“His support for Israel never wavered. It sprang from his belief in democracy and freedom. The State of Israel salutes John McCain,” the prime minister added.
Expressing her condolences on Twitter, opposition leader Tzipi Livni said that “McCain was not only an American hero, but a hero to many all over the world. 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,” she wrote.
In a tribute to McCain, President Reuven Rivlin said that “in saying goodbye to Sen. John McCain, we bid farewell to a great leader, a defender of his people, a man of strong values, and a true supporter of Israel. My heartfelt condolences to his family and all the American people.”
Former defense minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon eulogized the senator, recalling his many heroic deeds, posting a picture of the two together and concluded with the words, “Farewell Hero.”
In a short Twitter post, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid described McCain as both a friend of Israel and “a soldier with integrity in a world of politicians,” also posting a picture with the late senator.
Israeli Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, said that he was “deeply saddened” to hear the news.
“[He] was a great friend of Israel and a great champion of the US-Israel alliance. Condolences to his family and to the American people on the loss of a remarkably courageous soldier and statesman.”
Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog also took to Twitter to remember McCain.
“I will always cherish our conversations, his courage and support for Zionism and the State of Israel,” he wrote. “The Jewish people bid farewell to one of its greatest friends with deep gratitude. His memory will be a blessing to us all.”
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