Begin Calls Ehrlich Both ‘friend’ and ‘rival’ As Minister is Buried

Simcha Ehrlich, Israel’s Deputy Premier who died Sunday night, was buried at the Nahlat Yitzhak cemetery in Givatayim this afternoon. He was eulogized by Premier Menachem Begin as “a dear friend” who was “both a friend and a rival.”

Begin was the only speaker at the graveside, by request of Ehrlich’s family. “We all benefitted from his wisdom and experience. We remained friends through the most trying times and there was never a misunderstanding between us,” he said of Ehrlich who was a founder of the Likud coalition and a close personal friend of Begin despite their occasional political and ideological differences.

Attendance at the memorial service was small for a major public figure, apparently in keeping with the family’s wishes and the fact that Ehrlich was not a flamboyant politician who commanded popular attention. Nevertheless it was a State funeral. The late minister’s body lay in state in front of the Binyanei Haooma, the Jerusalem convention center, where moumers filed past.

Prayers were said by the army chief chaplain. Ehrlich’s son, Avraham, recited the kaddish. Cabinet ministers, Knesset leaders, the two chief rabbis and Arab and Druze notables in their traditional robes paid final tribute. The coffin was borne to the grave by an Air Force honor guard. Women soldiers placed wreaths on the grave.

Ehrlich was a leader and elder statesman of the Liberal Party wing of Likud. The party’s current internal strife was underlined when its executive committee found it necessary to pass a resolution today calling on members to avoid a leadership struggle during the 30 day mourning period.

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