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Becoming a one-man party for the second time


Returning to the Knesset
Uri Avnery Social activist
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Although I'd had such a bad experience with rotation agreements and Shalom Cohen, I came to the conclusion that resigning from the Knesset was almost unbearable. Many people in the Knesset had undertaken a commitment, other factions, and hardly anyone upheld it. But I told them: 'I don't care'. We made two agreements: one, that Lova would resign after two years and that I would take his place − I was number 3; and the other that Meir Pa'il would resign after two years and would be replaced by Saadia Marciano. We got two and the deadline was approaching. Lova said nothing to me and I didn't ask him, of course. We held a serious weekly meeting to discuss all of the matters arising in the Knesset. One day, a journalist called me and asked me what I had to say about it? So I said: 'About what?' 'About the fact that Lova has resigned and that you are getting into the Knesset!' This came as a complete surprise to me. He hadn't said a word, not a hint, nothing! 

So in February 1979 I returned to the Knesset. Meir Pa'il was already there and we created a duo: Meir Pa'il – Uri Avnery, which was an odd couple. There were no two people more different from each other as he was a true 'sabra' and I'm not. He was a professional soldier and I was not. He loved to joke − not such great jokes − and I do not, certainly not in the Knesset. But we worked very well together. We divided the work between us, and worked excellently together. We were both champions of heckling − only our heckling was very different. Still, as previously, I would heckle to the point, and sometimes this even served as an entire speech, because I would simply bring my central thesis in the form of an interjection. And Meir'ke − everyone called him 'Meir'ke' − with his jokes, some better some worse, he was the clown of the Knesset. But we worked very well together. Really, I think each of us took into account the other's nature, and it went very well.

למרות שכבר היה לי ניסיון כזה גרוע מהסכמי רוטציה עם שלום כהן, הגעתי למסקנה שאדם כמעט לא יכול לעמוד בזה, להתפטר מהכנסת. היו התחייבויות של רבים בכנסת, סיעות אחרות וכמעט אף אחד לא עמד בזה. אבל אמרתי להם: "לא איכפת לי”. ועשינו שני הסכמים: אחד, לובה יתפטר אחרי שנתיים ואני אכנס במקומו, הייתי מס' 3. ומאיר פעיל יתפטר אחרי שנתיים ויבוא במקומו סעדיה מרציאנו. קיבלנו שניים והמועד מתקרב. לובה לא אומר לי כלום, אני לא שואל אותו, כמובן. יש לנו ישיבה רצינית שבועית שדנים בכל העניינים שעולים בכנסת. יום אחד מטלפן לי עיתונאי ושואל אותי מה אני אומר על זה? אז אמרתי: "על מה?" "על זה שלובה התפטר ואתה נכנס לכנסת!" זה בא לי כהפתעה מוחלטת. הוא לא אמר לי מילה, לא רמז, כלום! אז אני בפברואר 79' חזרתי לכנסת. מאיר פעיל כבר היה שם ונוצר הזוג הזה: "מאיר פעיל-אורי אבנרי", שהיה זוג מוזר. אין שני אנשים יותר שונים אחד מהשני: הוא הצבר שבצבר ואני לא. הוא חייל מקצועי ואני לא. הוא אהב להתבדח. בדיחות לא מי יודע מה, ואני לא כל כך, בוודאי לא בכנסת. אבל עבדנו טוב מאוד יחד. חילקנו בינינו את העבודה, עבדנו מצוין יחד. והיינו שנינו אלופי קריאות הביניים, רק שקריאות הביניים שלנו היו שונות מאוד זו מזו. אני עוד מהפעם הקודמת קראתי קריאות ביניים ענייניות שלפעמים שימשו לי לחסוך נאום שלם, מפני שאני פשוט הבאתי את התיזה המרכזית בתור קריאות ביניים. ומאיר'קה, כולם קראו לו "מאיר'קה", עם הבדיחות שלו, יותר טובות/פחות טובות, הוא היה הליצן של הכנסת. אבל עבדנו מצויין ביחד. ממש, אני חושב שכל אחד התחשב באופיו של השני וזה הלך טוב מאוד.‏

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: Sabra, Knesset, Shalom Cohen, Meir Pa'il, Saadia Marciano, Aryeh 'Lova' Eliav

Duration: 3 minutes, 18 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017