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Yasser Arafat - a very cautious man


Issam Sartawi supports the two-state solution
Uri Avnery Social activist
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הוא כאמור הלך לאמריקה, הפך למנתח לב חשוב, חזר לירדן במלחמת ששת הימים, הקים ארגון פדאיון, לחם בחבש, הצטרף לפת"ח ובפת"ח הוא קיבל את הדסק הישראלי. והרעיון שלו היה, כמו של כולם: לשכנע את כל מדינות ערב להציע ליהודים המזרחיים לחזור הביתה. לשכנע את לוב ולשכנע את מרוקו ולשכנע את עיראק וכו’. והוא הקדיש את זמנו לזה והגיע למרוקו וכנראה התיידד עם מלך מרוקו ומלך מרוקו סידר לו פגישה עם ראשי הקהילה היהודית במרוקו. והוא בא לפגישה. היהודים הסכימו לקבל אותו מפני שהמלך רצה ולמלך לא אומרים “לא". אז הייתה לו פגישה עם היהודים ובמהלך הפגישה הזאת הוא השתכנע לחלוטין שאין שום סיכוי שהיהודים יעזבו את מדינת ישראל ויחזרו למרוקו או לשום מקום אחר. ואז התחולל בו שינוי מוחלט והוא באותו רגע הפך לחסיד מה שנקרא היום "פתרון שתי המדינות”. ובעיקר חסיד של הרעיון שמוכרחים לעשות שלום עם ישראל. ומכיוון שהיה לו היגיון אמריקאי, אז הוא הגיע למסקנה עד הסוף: "אם האינטרס שלנו הוא לעשות שלום עם ישראל, אם אין בכלל דרך אחרת להגשים את המאוויים של העם הפלסטיני, אלא בשלום עם ישראל, אז בואו נתרכז בדבר הזה בלי סטיות ימינה ושמאלה. זו המטרה ועליה הולכים.‏”

He then went to America, as I said, and became an important heart surgeon. He returned to Jordan during the Six Day War where he founded a fedayeen organization and fought against Habash. He joined Fatah and with Fatah he was given the Israel desk. His idea was, like everyone else, to persuade the Arab states to propose to the Misrahi Jews that they should go 'home'.  To persuade Libya, to persuade Morocco, to persuade Iraq, etc. He devoted himself to this and he visited Morocco where he apparently became friendly with the King of Morocco who arranged a meeting for him with leaders of the Jewish community in Morocco. And he came to the meeting. The Jews agreed to meet with him because the King had requested that, and you did not say no to the King. So he had a meeting with the Jews and during this meeting he became absolutely convinced that there was no chance that the Jews would leave Israel and return to Morocco or anywhere else. Then he underwent a complete change and from that moment he became a supporter of the so-called 'two-state solution', especially an advocate of the idea that they had to make peace with Israel. And because he had an American style of logic he followed this conclusion to the end: 'If our interest is to make peace with Israel − if there is no other way to fulfil the aspirations of the Palestinian people except through peace with Israel − let us try to concentrate on this, without deviating either to the right or to the left. This is the goal and this is what we are going for'.

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: Morocco, Issam Sartawi

Duration: 2 minutes, 33 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017