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Rotating party members in the Knesset


My party gains a second seat in the Knesset
Uri Avnery Social activist
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In the 1969 elections, the main subject was the Palestinian state.

[Q] Already then? 

From the beginning, in the middle of the war itself. This was the main subject. In 1969, the soldiers were already at home and the situation was normal with the 'enlightened occupation'. Enlightened occupation was also such a term.

In 1969 we succeeded in getting a second member into the Knesset, Shalom Cohen. To advance the chapter about Bader-Ofer: the difference between the two mandates and one mandate for us was very small, I think some 2000 votes. Why? Because the electoral system that had been used from the outset of the State until then was very simple: take the election results, see the full mandate, divide it by 120 and that is the number of a full mandate, but there always remains a surplus. Let's say 115 seats are filled in the Knesset, and there remain five that need to be filled. The parties have a surplus, after filling the quota for let's say 10 MKs, they still have a surplus. The method was very simple:  you take all the surplus, whoever has the biggest surplus receives what he needs, then the second, then the third, until you reach 120. I was elected in 1965 but remained with a large surplus. Not enough to get a second mandate, but not much less. The second time - in 1969 - some votes were added, a few thousand, and it was enough to give us two [MKs]. We had a large surplus. So based on the large surplus Shalom Cohen got in.

I had a speech scheduled in advance in Finland. I had agreed to speak in Finland to some camp of the younger generation, and on the way I passed through Vienna and I gave a major speech there, too. I left Israel after the elections, of course, immediately after the election; I didn't know our second mandate was on the brink. I was in Helsinki on a bitterly cold night when I got the news that Shalom Cohen had got into the Knesset. I was so delighted! I drank quantities of Akvavit, serious quantities, and I came back. And what a celebration we had. Shalom got in, and now we were three: I, Shalom Cohen, and Amnon Zichroni, who remained as my parliamentary aide - I think he was still the only one in the Knesset - and we were very happy.

בבחירות 69' הנושא המרכזי היה מדינה פלסטינית, מהתחלה, מאמצע המלחמה עצמה. זה היה הנושא המרכזי. ב-69' החיילים כבר היו בבית והיה מצב נורמלי כאילו, עם "הכיבוש הנאור”. "כיבוש נאור” גם היה מושג כזה. ב-69' אנחנו הצלחנו. הצלחנו והכנסנו חבר כנסת שני, את שלום כהן. להקדים את הפרק של בדר-עופר: ההבדל בין מנדט אחד לשני מנדטים אצלנו היה קטן מאוד, נדמה לי איזה 2,000 קולות. למה? מפני ששיטת הבחירות שהייתה נהוגה מראשית המדינה עד אז הייתה נורא פשוטה: לוקחים את תוצאות הבחירות, רואים מנדט מלא, מחלקים ל-120 וזה המספר של מנדט מלא, אבל תמיד נשארים בסוף עודפים. מתמלאים נגיד 115 מקומות בכנסת, ונשארים חמישה שצריכים לאייש. ולמפלגות יש עודפים, אחרי שמילאו את המכסה בשביל נגיד עשרה חברי כנסת נשאר להם עוד עודף. ואז השיטה הייתה מאוד פשוטה: לוקחים את כל העודפים, מי שיש לו עודף הכי גדול מקבל, אחר-כך השני, אחר-כך השלישי, עד שמגיעים ל-120. אני נבחרתי ב-1965 אבל נשאר עודף גדול. פחות מדי בשביל לקבל מנדט שני, אבל לא הרבה פחות מדי. בפעם השנייה, ב-69' נוספו לנו קולות, כמה אלפים, וזה הספיק בשביל להכניס שני. לנו היה עודף גדול. אז על סמך העודף הגדול שלום כהן נכנס. אני יודע, הייתה לי מראש קבוע נאום בפינלנד. הסכמתי לנאום בפינלנד באיזשהו מחנה של הדור הצעיר ובדרך עברתי בווינה ונאמתי גם כן איזשהו נאום גדול, וכשיצאתי מהארץ אחרי הבחירות כמובן, מיד אחרי הבחירות, לא ידעתי. המנדט השני שלנו התנדנד. והייתי בהלסינקי בלילה קור אימים כשקיבלתי את הידיעה ששלום כהן נכנס לכנסת. מה זה שמחתי! אין גבול בכלל. שתיתי כמויות של אקווה ויט רציניות וחזרתי. והייתה חגיגה וזה. שלום נכנס והיינו שלושה: אני, שלום כהן ואמנון זכרוני שנשאר בתור יועץ פרלמנטרי, עדיין היחיד נדמה לי בכנסת, והייתה שמחה גדולה.‏

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: Shalom Cohen, Amnon Zichroni

Duration: 4 minutes, 28 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017