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The reality of Israeli occupation


Two votes – two regrets
Uri Avnery Social activist
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I had it in mind that if Israel annexes Jerusalem and then we make peace with the Palestinian state that was going to be established, it would be much easier to achieve this idea. Maybe I used the prevailing atmosphere as an excuse to myself. There was tremendous enthusiasm in Israel which, I think, made it impossible to vote against [the reunification]. It would have meant voting against the people of Israel altogether. Either way, I voted for. Fairly soon I regretted that decision and apologised for it publicly more than once. These two votes: the occupation of the Golan Heights and the reunification of Jerusalem - these were the only two important votes during 10 years in the Knesset which I totally regretted. I immediately began to live in East Jerusalem instead of in the West. There was a small hotel that I really loved, and the Knesset paid for my lodging in hotels in East Jerusalem.

[Q] Did anyone object to the reunification of Jerusalem?

Communists, I think. The communists were in favor of returning the West Bank to Jordan. I was the only one at that time who advocated a Palestinian state, though in retrospect there was Moshe Sneh's small faction. The communists had split. A small section, Jewish, kept the name Maki, and the more serious communists became Rakah. Sneh was also in favor of [reunification]. I don't remember but it could be checked in the Knesset registry. Maybe I got carried away on a wave of enthusiasm; it could be - I don't want to deny that. Altogether I had a profound inner conviction at that moment that it was impossible to vote against the reunification of Jerusalem.

היה לי רעיון בראש, שאם ישראל תספח את ירושלים ואז נעשה שלום עם המדינה הפלסטינית שתקום, את הרעיון הזה יהיה הרבה יותר קל להגשים. אולי זה היה תירוץ שלי בפני עצמי שהאווירה הייתה כזאת. הייתה התלהבות עצומה כזאת בארץ שלדעתי פשוט אי-אפשר היה להצביע נגד. זה היה להצביע נגד עם ישראל כולו. כך או אחרת הצבעתי בעד. די מהר התחרטתי והתנצלתי פומבית לא אחת ולא שתיים. שתי ההצבעות האלה: כיבוש הגולן ואיחוד ירושלים - זה שתי ההצבעות היחידות שלי בעשר שנים בכנסת, הצבעות חשובות, שהתחרטתי עליהן חרטה טוטאלית. אני מיד התחלתי לגור בירושלים המזרחית במקום במערבית. היה לי מלון קטן שנורא אהבתי והכנסת שילמה בשביל ההתאכסנות שלי במלונות בירושלים המזרחית. שאלה: האם מישהו התגנד לאיחוד ירושלים? הקומוניסטים, אני חושב. הקומוניסטים היו בעד החזרת הגדה לירדן. אני הייתי היחידי אז שדגל במדינה פלסטינית, אם כי בדיעבד הייתה סיעה קטנה של משה סנה. הרי הקומוניסטים התפלגו. פלג קטן, יהודי, נשאר עם השם מק"י והקומוניסטים הרציניים הפכו לרק”ח. סנה גם היה בעד זה. אני לא זוכר את זה אבל צריכים לבדוק בדברי הכנסת. אולי אני נסחפתי בגל ההתלהבות, יכול להיות, לא רוצה להכחיש. הכל יחד היה לי שכנוע פנימי עמוק באותו רגע שאי-אפשר להצביע נגד איחוד ירושלים.‏

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: Israel, Jerusalem, Golan Heights, Palestine, Moshe Sneh, Israeli Communist Party, Maki, Rakah

Duration: 2 minutes, 48 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017