Veteran Israeli peace campaigner Uri Avnery dies aged 94

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Veteran Israeli peace campaigner Uri Avnery dies aged 94

Former journalist and member of the Knesset who met PLO chairman Yasser Arafat in Beirut passes away in Tel Aviv

Avnery at a rally against the 2006 Lebanon War
Avnery at a rally against the 2006 Lebanon War

British Jewish groups have paid tribute to Uri Avnery, an Israeli journalist and peace activist and one of the first to openly advocate for a Palestinian state, has died aged 94.

Mr Avnery died on Monday at a Tel Aviv hospital after suffering a stroke with a left-wing pro-Israel group calling him “one of the sharpest, most courageous people who lived among us.”

For decades, he was a symbol of the Israeli peace camp, easily recognised by his thick white beard and white hair.

A member of Israel’s founding generation, he fought in its war of independence before becoming a publisher, member of parliament, author and activist.

In the 1982 Lebanon War, he sneaked into besieged Beirut to talk to Israel’s then-nemesis, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat.

Mr Avnery challenged successive Israeli governments in arguing that a Palestinian state was the only way to secure peace for a democratic Israel with a Jewish majority.

Uri Avnery meeting with PLO chair Yasser Arafat in Beirut

Left-wing Zionist group the New Israel Fund UK, who promote social equality and democracy in the Jewish state, paid tribute to Uri Avnery as “one of the sharpest, most courageous people who lived among us.”

Adam Ognall, CEO, said “he did so much for Israel, without fear and with a clarity of thought. It is said of a number of people when they pass that their legacy will be peace. This will be as true for Avnery as for any Israeli who has taken risks and made sacrifices to take us on the path to peace.”

Anti-occupation group Yachad paid tribute to the 94-year-old campaigner, saying he “fought for the establishment of the State of Israel, and as a peace fighter, he fought for its character as a Jewish and democratic state.

“A pioneer of investigative journalism in Israel Avnery was always one step ahead of everyone else, challenging the status quo. Never preaching without practising.”

“The eternal optimist did not get to see his vision of peace coming true, and there is still a lot of work to do to make this vision a reality. It is sad that all those who seek peace for Israel and Palestine will have to carry on without him as a compass.”

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