Israeli pioneer dies at 88

Arie “Lova” Eliav

Arie “Lova” Eliav

One of the founders of Israel’s Labour party, who was a key figure in the development of the Jewish state, has died at the age of 88.

Israeli politicians have paid tribute to statesman and writer Arie “Lova” Eliav, who served in five different Knessets and was instrumental in settling new immigrants into Israel.

Born in Moscow, he moved to Israel as a child and at 15 joined the pre-state Hagana. After fighting for the British Army in the Second World War, he was a key figure in bringing immigrants to Israel in the run up to independence.

As a diplomat in Moscow in the 1950s, Mr Eliav went undercover to help Jews escape from the Soviet Union.

He was a naval commander during the War of independence and also led crucial operations during the Sinai War.

Known for his left-wing views and his opposition to settlements, Mr Eliav had a colourful political career, serving at different times in the Mapai, Labour and Sheli parties. He also wrote several books including "The Land of the Hart" in 1972.

President Shimon Peres said: “Throughout his life Lova Eliav excelled in maintaining a personal as well as a leader's pioneering spirit. As far as he was concerned a leader's responsibility was not to be superior, but to be a pioneer."

Minister Isaac Herzog called Mr Eliav an example of pioneering service.

He said: “In his social perspectives, in his understanding of the beauty of Israeli society as well as its complexities and of the need to bravely reach peace with our neighbours.

“His image and his beliefs will remain with us for generations.”

    Last updated: 3:15pm, June 1 2010