Ex-ambassador Shlomo Argov Dies at 74

Shlomo Argov, the former Israeli ambassador who survived a nearly fatal 1982 Palestinian assassination attempt in London, died Sunday in Jerusalem at the age of 74.

The time of his funeral has not yet been announced.

The June 3, 1982, attack on Argov, who was ambassador to Britain at the time, served as the proximate cause of Operation Peace in the Galilee. The attack gave Menachem Begin's government the excuse it needed to implement then-defense minster Ariel Sharon's plan to invade Lebanon and push the PLO out of Beirut.

The day after Argov was shot in the head by Palestinian terrorists from Abu Nidal's terrorist group, Israeli jets bombed PLO ammunition depots and training bases, in turn triggering a PLO bombardment against Israel's northern settlements.

On June 6, 1982, the Israel Defense Forces launched Operation Peace for the Galilee. Israeli troops remained in southern Lebanon until May 2000.

However, a friend and associate of Argov's told Army Radio on Sunday that Argov did not like Israeli officials' linking of his attack with the Lebanese invasion.

In a statement commemorating the 20th anniversary of Argov's attack, the Israeli embassy characterized Argov as "a gifted orator and wordsmith" and "an eloquent and highly respected advocate of Israel's cause" who would likely have played a leading role in peace negotiations had he not been incapacitated in the assassination attempt.

Argov had been hospitalized from 1982 until his death in the rehabilitation center of Hadassah University Hospital on Mount Scopus, Jerusalem.

Prior to representing Israel in London, Argov was Israeli ambassador to Holland and Mexico and had also served as the deputy director-general of public relations in the Foreign Ministry.