Israeli, Palestinian officials pay respects to late peace activist

Israeli, Palestinian officials pay respects to late peace activist Uri Avnery
2 min read
23 August, 2018
Senior Israeli opposition leaders and Palestinian officials are paying their respects to late Israeli journalist and peace activist Uri Avnery, who died this week at age 94.
Uri Avnery was a symbol of Israel's peace camp for decades. [Getty]

Senior Israeli opposition leaders and Palestinian officials are paying their respects to late Israeli journalist and peace activist Uri Avnery, who died this week at age 94.

Dozens of people, including a delegation of Palestinian officials, attended a memorial for Avnery on Wednesday in Tel Aviv.

Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, says he came to "remember a great man of peace," and that the "commitment to peace is still alive because there are people in Israel like Uri Avnery."

As a teen Avnery was a member of the Irgun, the right-wing Zionist militia that fought both local Palestinians and Palestine's British rulers prior to Israel's 1948 declaration of statehood.

He had no regrets about belonging to the group.

"I fought for the freedom of my people against the British occupiers," he said. "For the same reasons, I always thought that the Palestinians were entitled to their independence and freedom."

Avnery, a member of Israel's founding generation, was a symbol of Israel's peace camp for decades and championed the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As a journalist, he famously sneaked into besieged Beirut during the 1982 Lebanon War to talk to Israel's then-nemesis, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat.

Gush Shalom, the peace movement Avnery founded in 1993, said that Avnery will be inscribed in Israel's history as "a far-seeing visionary who pointed to a way which others failed to see".

"It is the fate and future of the State of Israel to reach peace with its neighbours," Gush Shalom said. "Avnery's greatest opponents will ultimately have to follow in his footsteps."

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