Main negotiator of Oslo Accords with PLO dies aged just 69
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Main negotiator of Oslo Accords with PLO dies aged just 69

Uri Savir was a rising star in the Israeli foreign ministry, aged just 40, in 1993 when ex-Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres made him director general in preference to more experienced heads.

Uri Savir during Oslo peace talks in 1994
Uri Savir during Oslo peace talks in 1994

Uri Savir, Israel’s chief negotiator in the Oslo Accords with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, has died aged 69.

Savir was a rising star in the Israeli foreign ministry, aged just 40, in 1993 when ex-Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres made him director general in preference to more experienced heads.

Uri Savir in 2011

And in May 1993 Savir recalled the former Prime Minister, at his official residence in Jerusalem, offered him the job of Oslo negotiator, as if “he were offering cheese and crackers”.

Savir was an architect of the final status peace agreement with the PLO.

He was also a member of the Israeli delegation in talks with Jordan, which yielded the 1994 peace agreement, as well as the head of the negotiating team in talks with Syria from 1995-96. He helped launch the Peres Center for Peace in 1996.

Savir wrote about the Oslo negotiations in his 1998 book, “The Process: 1,100 Days That Changed the Middle East.”

By the time the rapprochement collapsed at the Camp David summit in 2001, Savir was no longer involved in the process.

The diplomat, who was born in Jerusalem in 1953, served as Israel’s consul-general in New York from 1988-92 and had a brief stint in the Knesset between 1999-2001 for the short-lived Center Party.

In 2011, he founded YaLa, a movement to create dialogue between young leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa.

He said in 2015: “It’s much more important for Arab and Israelis to study together than for me to sit 500 hours with Yasser Arafat. I didn’t understand it 20 years ago.

“I believe that ultimately there will be a two-state solution. I believe that a majority wants peaceful coexistence.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid wrote on Twitter: “We have lost an important diplomat, a former director-general of the Foreign Ministry. He dedicated his life to Israeli foreign policy and strived for an alternative Middle East. He did this with complete faith and great talent. His contribution to the State of Israel is enormous and can be felt until today.”

Labor MK Emilie Moatti tweeted: “I wish to share in the grief of the Savir family with the death of their loved one, a member of the peace camp, one of the bravest of them, the diplomat and former MK Uri Savir.”

Savir is survived by wife Aliza and their daughter, Maya Savir.

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