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Two votes – two regrets


Voting for the reunification of Jerusalem
Uri Avnery Social activist
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Well, here I see that I digressed from the subject of Jerusalem, but I cannot escape it. The war was at the beginning of June. Before the end of June I was sick and I decided for once I had a fever so I wasn't going to the session of the Knesset. I lay in bed. Suddenly I got a call from Amnon Zichroni, my parliamentary aide: 'Uri, you must come to the Knesset'. I said: 'I am sick, I cannot'. 'Sick or not, you have to come because they're about to vote on the reunification of Jerusalem'. Well, I got in the car, raced to Jerusalem. Amnon met me in one of the side rooms and we argued about how to vote. Amnon said, 'We should abstain. We cannot vote for it'. All my instincts said: this is not a matter to abstain from. I decided against his advice. The only time, I think, that I acted against Amnon's advice. Usually we thought much the same. I said: 'I cannot vote against the reunification of Jerusalem'.

It was right after the war. Two weeks after the war, when no one dreamed of holding on to the territories and there was a general consensus that it would be returned to Jordan in a while. And I said, if this goes back to Jordan, then it will be lost to the Palestinian people. My idea, I don't know if I ever mentioned it, my idea since 1949 was of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, with Jerusalem as a shared capital. No division of Jerusalem, but a shared capital. In other words the entire city, East and West, would be one unit where - from a political aspect - the western portion would belong to Israel and the eastern portion would belong to the Palestinian state. But the city itself would be managed as one city with one City Council, one Mayor - perhaps with two Deputy Mayors, one for each of the sides. It was the integral concept of my Palestinian idea throughout the years. Today I'm not sure if it would have been possible but, in principle, I stand for it today as well, and all my Arab partners including Faisal Husseini - who was the leader of the Arabs of East Jerusalem - were of the same opinion, we agreed on it. Together we formulated a petition; we'll get to that.

טוב, ופה אין לי, אני רואה שאני ברחתי מהנושא של ירושלים, אבל אני לא יכול לברוח מזה. המלחמה הייתה בראשית יוני. לפני סוף יוני הייתי חולה והחלטתי פעם אחת בחיים יש לי חום, אני לא הולך לישיבת הכנסת. שכבתי במיטה, פתאום מטלפן לי אמנון זכרוני שהיה היועץ הפרלמנטרי שלי: "אורי, אתה מוכרח לבוא לכנסת”. אמרתי: "אני חולה, אני לא יכול". "חולה, לא חולה – אתה חייב לבוא משום שעכשיו יש חוק על איחוד ירושלים" טוב, נכנסתי לאוטו, דהרתי לירושלים. פוגש את אמנון באיזה חדר צדדי ומתווכחים איך להצביע. ואמנון אמר: "צריכים להימנע. אנחנו לא יכולים להצביע בשביל זה”. ואני, כל האינסטינקטים שלי אמרו "זה לא עניין שאתה יכול להימנע”. ואני החלטתי נגד העצה. פעם היחידה נדמה לי שפעלתי נגד העצה של אמנון. בדרך כלל חשבנו בצורה מקבילה. אמרתי: "אני לא יכול להצביע נגד איחוד ירושלים”. זה היה מיד אחרי המלחמה. שבועיים אחרי המלחמה, שבכלל איש לא חלם על החזקת השטחים והייתה הסכמה כללית שמחזירים את זה לירדן תוך כמה זמן. ואני אמרתי: אם זה ילך חזרה לירדן, זה אבוד לעם הפלסטיני. הרעיון שלי, אני לא יודע אם אי-פעם הזכרתי את זה, הרעיון שלי מאז 49' היה מדינה פלסטינית לצד מדינת ישראל עם ירושלים כבירה משותפת. לא חלוקת ירושלים, בירה משותפת. דהיינו כל העיר, מערב ומזרח, תהיה יחידה אחת שמבחינה מדינית הצד המערבי יהיה שייך לישראל והצד המזרחי למדינה הפלסטינית, אבל העיר עצמה תנוהל כעיר אחת עם מועצת עיר אחת, עם ראש עיר אחד,אולי עם שני תת-ראשי ערים משני הצדדים. זה היה רעיון אינטגרלי של כל הרעיון הפלסטיני שלי כל השנים. היום אני לא בטוח שזה היה אפשרי אבל, עקרונית אני דוגל בזה גם היום כל השותפים הערבים שלי כולל פאסל חוסייני, שהיה מנהיג של ערבי מזרח ירושלים היה באותה דעה - הסכמנו על זה. ניסחנו יחד עצומה עוד נגיע לזה.‏

Uri Avnery (1923-2018) was an Israeli writer, journalist and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. As a teenager, he joined the Zionist paramilitary group, Irgun. Later, Avnery was elected to the Knesset from 1965 to 1974 and from 1979 to 1981. He was also the editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine, 'HaOlam HaZeh' from 1950 until it closed in 1993. He famously crossed the lines during the Siege of Beirut to meet Yasser Arafat on 3 July 1982, the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Avnery was the author of several books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including '1948: A Soldier's Tale, the Bloody Road to Jerusalem' (2008); 'Israel's Vicious Circle' (2008); and 'My Friend, the Enemy' (1986).

Listeners: Anat Saragusti

Anat Saragusti is a film-maker, book editor and a freelance journalist and writer. She was a senior staff member at the weekly news magazine Ha'olam Hazeh, where she was prominent in covering major events in Israel. Uri Avnery was the publisher and chief editor of the Magazine, and Saragusti worked closely with him for over a decade. With the closing of Ha'olam Hazeh in 1993, Anat Saragusti joined the group that established TV Channel 2 News Company and was appointed as its reporter in Gaza. She later became the chief editor of the evening news bulletin. Concurrently, she studied law and gained a Master's degree from Tel Aviv University.

Tags: Jerusalem, reunification, Amnon Zichroni, Faisal Abdel Qader Al-Husseini

Duration: 3 minutes, 18 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017