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Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace


Talks between the PLO and Mossad made official
Uri Avnery Social activist
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I went to Hammami, to one of the meetings, and he told me: 'It's time to move forward from private conversations between you and me to formal talks between the PLO and the Israeli Mossad. And an appropriate institution must be established, although it will remain confidential. The talks will remain secret, but they will no longer be private, but will be official'. With this mission I went home and thought about how to set up a large, wide-scale Israeli institution which would bear this burden. I met with all kinds of people. Negotiations with the left-wingers were not always a pleasure. Those on the left, contrary to the right-wingers, are all clever people and everyone has an opinion, and his opinion is important to him, to the very last comma. It didn't occur to them that they needed to be flexible to allow for joint cooperation. Unlike the right, whose psychology is completely different, they were looking for power, they understood that power was paramount. That's how I met all kinds of leftist intellectuals, and I was in despair. It was impossible. We even convened several meetings at the Theater Club on Mendele Street and there were endless discussions. Everyone had an opinion, and everyone had an erudite and well-reasoned opinion, but there was no…

So one day I decided: let's try going the opposite way − first we will set it up, and then we'll see what happens. So I published a call in Haaretz, call, to establish the 'Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace'. There were about a dozen clauses and there were three signatures. Apart from me the signatories were: Yossi Amitai, who was an expert on the Middle East from Kibbutz Gvulot in the Negev and who later became head of the Israeli Academic Institution in Cairo, after the peace; and the third was Amos Kenan. Amos Kenan was not in Israel and did not actually see the manifesto. But when he was assigned to be the emissary for HaOlam HaZeh in Paris he told me: 'You can sign in my name on anything you see fit'. So I added his signature and there were three signatures. And then suddenly things started moving. There was a man named David Shaham, who was a sort of writer, the brother of Nathan Shaham who was a real writer. He was a member of Mapai, the Labour Party, and he took things into his hands, and suddenly it started to move. He brought Lova Eliav, who was a very important man. He was the Secretary of Mapai, who had already left Mapai previously because he had argued with Golda Meir, like everyone else. And he brought Eliyahu Eliashar, President of the Sephardic community in Israel. Lova brought General Matti Peled and Ya’akov Arnon, and suddenly we had 100 signatures!

נסעתי לחמאמי, לאחת הפגישות, ואז הוא אמר לי: "הגיע הזמן להתקדם משיחות אישיות בינך וביני, לשיחות ממוסדות בין אש"ף למוסד ישראלי. ותקים מוסד מתאים, וזה יישאר סודי. תישארנה שיחות חשאיות אבל לא עוד אישיות, כי אם מוסדיות". עם השליחות הזאת חזרתי הביתה, וחשבתי איך להקים מוסד ישראלי גדול, רחב, בשביל לשאת את המעמסה הזאת. נפגשתי עם כל מיני אנשים. מו"מ עם אנשי שמאל זה לא תמיד תענוג. אנשי שמאל, להבדיל מאנשי ימין, זה כולם אנשים חכמים וכל אחד יש לו דעה, והדעה חשובה לו עד לפסיק האחרון. לא עולה על דעתם שצריכים לוותר בקצוות על-מנת לאפשר פעולה משותפת. בניגוד לימין שהפסיכולוגיה שלו היא לגמרי שונה: הוא מחפש כוח, הוא מבין שכוח זה הרבה. וככה אני נפגשתי עם כל מיני אינטלקטואלים שמאליים והתייאשתי. זה היה בלתי-אפשרי. עוד כינסנו אפילו כמה פגישות ב"מועדון התיאטרון" ברחוב מנדלי והיו ויכוחים אינסופיים. כל אחד הייתה לו דעה, וכל אחד הייתה לו דעה מלומדת ומנומקת היטב אבל לא נוצרה שום. הסכמה. אז יום אחד החלטתי: בואו נלך בדרך הפוכה – קודם נקים, אח"כ נראה. אז פרסמתי ב"הארץ" מצע, או קריאה, להקמת "המועצה הישראלית למען שלום ישראל-פלסטין”. והיו כתריסר סעיפים והיו שלוש חתימות. חוץ ממני חתמו יוסי אמיתי - יוסי אמיתי הוא מזרחן מקיבוץ גבולות בנגב, שלימים היה ראש המוסד האקדמי הישראלי בקהיר, אחרי השלום - והשלישי היה עמוס קינן. עמוס קינן לא היה בארץ ולא ראה את המינשר. אבל כשהוא נשלח בשליחות "העולם הזה" לפריז הוא אמר לי: "אתה יכול לחתום בשמי על כל מה שאתה מוצא לנכון”. אז שמתי גם את חתימתו והיו שלוש חתימות. ואז פתאום התחילו דברים לזוז. היה איש בשם דוד שחם, שהיה מין חצי סופר כזה, אחיו של נתן שחם שהיה סופר אמיתי. הוא היה איש מפא"י, איש מפלגת העבודה, והוא לקח את הדברים לידיו ופתאום זה התחיל לזוז הוא הביא את לובה אליאב, שהוא היה איש מאוד חשוב. הוא היה מזכיר מפא"י, שפרש ממפא"י לפני זה כבר, רב עם גולדה מאיר, כמו כולם. והביאו את אליהו אלישר, נשיא העדה הספרדית בארץ. לובה הביא את האלוף מתי פלד ויעקב ארנון ופתאום יש לנו מאה חתימות.‏

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: Said Hammami

Duration: 5 minutes, 19 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017