The House of Commons Speaker led tributes in Parliament to an Israeli ambassador who was shot at point-blank range 31 years ago, to mark ten years since he succumbed to his injuries.
John Bercow emphasised the importance of Israelis serving free from the threat of barbarity in a ceremony honouring Shlomo Argov, who served as Israel’s envoy to Britain for three years.
Mr Argov was shot by three attackers in June 1982 as he left London’s Dorchester Hotel.
Following the assassination attempt, he underwent emergency brain surgery and was left almost totally paralysed for the remaining 21 years of his life, in need of constant medical attention. He died at the age of 73 in Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital.
One of the three attackers, said to be affiliated with Abu Nidal’s Palestinian terrorist group, was shot by security guards at the scene; the other two were later jailed. The assassination attempt is widely seen as one of the events that led to the first Lebanon war.
Mr Bercow declared: “Upon one thing as democrats and freedom lovers, we should be united and utterly unyielding — and that is the principle that people should be allowed and encouraged to go about their lawful business, without the threat that they will be victims of a monstrous act of barbarity” .
Daniel Taub, the present Israeli ambassador to the UK, observed that it was fitting that the ceremony was being held at Parliament “since the attack on Ambassador Argov wasn’t simply an assault on Israel, it was an assault on Britain, on British soil and on British values”.
It was one of a number of ceremonies held to mark the decade since Mr Argov’s death, with Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt speaking at one outside the Dorchester, with Mr Argov’s granddaughters in attendance.