In 1983, she told leaders of the Soviet Jewry movement that she would do “absolutely everything” to support their cause, which dovetailed with her revulsion of communism.
Thatcher did not shy away from taking on Israeli leaders. She tussled with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin over his refusal to deal with Palestinian leaders and the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, calling him the “most difficult” man she had to deal with.
In the mid-1980s, she worked Shimon Peres, then the head of a fractious national unity government, to reach a peace agreement with Jordan, but it was scuttled by Begin’s successor as Likud leader, Yitzhak Shamir. Thatcher also pressed Reagan to deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization, suasions that bore fruit when the president recognized the group during his final months in office in 1988.
Peres, now Israel’s president, said Thatcher’s strength served as an example.
“She showed how far a person can go with strength of character, determination and a clear vision,” he said.
(Cnaan Liphshiz contributed to this article.)