Netanyahu mentor and former minister Moshe Arens dies at 93

Arens lost a party leadership bid against his former protégé in 1999

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Arens (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listen to army Chief of Staff General Shaul Mofaz report on Israeli air raids on Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, during a defence ministry press conference 28 February. Israeli leaders vowed to retaliate "on land, by sea and in the air" after the Islamic militia Hezbollah killed Israel's top general in occupied south Lebanon.    Electronic image. (Photo by SVEN NACKSTRAND / AFP)
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Former Israeli defence minister and mentor of current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Moshe Arens, died on Monday aged 93.

The former Likud Party MP took a 32-year-old Mr Netanyahu to Washington in 1982 when he was appointed US ambassador. In 1988, during his second term as defence minister, he again brought in his protégé as his deputy.

However, after resigning from politics when the Likud lost the 1992 election, he battled Mr Netanyahu for the party leadership seven years later. Although Mr Netanyahu won a resounding victory, he appointed Arens as defence minister a third and final time.

His political career finally ended in 2003 when he lost his seat in the Knesset and became a political columnist and writer.

Born in Lithuania in 1925, Arens family moved to the US in 1939 where he served in the American military during World War II. He emigrated to Israel after 1948 where he joined the Zionist paramilitary group Irgun, the group responsible for the 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem – the headquarters of the British administration in Palestine – and the 1948 Deir Yassin massacre in which they killed over 100 Palestinians including women and children.

While with Irgun, Arens travelled to Morocco, Tunisia and across North Africa to give military training to local Jewish groups.

He served in the Knesset as a member of the Likud Party from 1973 until 1992 and then again between 1999 and 2003. He was an opponent of the 1978 Camp David Accords that led to a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel a year later and refused to become defence minister in Prime Minister Menachem Begin cabinet in 1980 over the matter.