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Anwar Sadat’s revolutionary initiative


Multilateral peace talks held in London
Uri Avnery Social activist
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זהו. לפני זה קרה משהו, אני לא יודע אם סיפרתי כבר על כל היוזמות של לה פירה והמפלגה הקומוניסטית וכו’. בסוף הייתה יוזמה של גוף פרו-פלסטיני אנגלי, עם כמה חברי פרלמנט ואנשים די חשובים. אני חושב שהראש החדש של מפלגת העבודה הבריטית הוא היה שייך לזה. והם יזמו פגישת שלום בלונדון: ערבי-פלסטיני-ישראלי. ומישראל באו חוץ ממני מתי פלד, אני חושב שיעקב ארנון, קומוניסטים, יוסי אמיתי. קבוצה ישראלית די מכובדת אני חושב. באה משלחת רצינית ממצרים, מהאופוזיציה המצרית, מהמפלגה השמאלית. ובאו מכל מיני ארצות ערב. והיה קונגרס רציני. ומהצד הפלסטיני רצו לבוא מביירות, אבל נמל התעופה של ביירות נסגר. נדמה לי שקרה שם משהו, שכחתי מה. ובאו פלסטינים, גם סרטאווי וגם חמאמי. הפעם היחידה שראיתי אותם יחד. וקיבלנו כל מיני החלטות יפות. ואז, שבוע או שבועיים אחרי זה, בא העסק הזה עם סאדאת ומחק את כל היוזמות האלה מהשולחן כלא היו. בוועידה הזאת אני ראיתי שחמאמי איכשהו מבוהל. כשאנחנו התכנסנו, זה היה באיזה מלון בין לונדון לנמל התעופה. בחוץ היו כל הזמן הפגנות מחאה ערביות נגד הוועידה, נגד השלום. זה היה אבו נידאל וכל החבורה הזאת. וביניהם מי בולט וזורח? אורי דייוויס הישראלי. והצעקות: "בוגדים", ודברים נוראיים. נגד הערבים, לא כל כך נגדנו. ואני רואה שחמאמי מבוהל איכשהו, ומשתדל לא להיפגש אתי פנים אל פנים. עד שבסוף הוא שלח לי מישהו שאני אבוא לראות אותו מאחורי המטבח באיזה מקום נסתר ואמר לי שהוא קיבל איומים על חייו מהקבוצה של אבו נידאל. חייו בסכנה, אנחנו צריכים קצת ביחסים בינינו להיזהר. ואכן אחרי כמה זמן רצחו אותו במשרדו בלונדון, הקבוצה של אבו נידאל. אותה קבוצה שאחרי זמן רצחה את סרטאווי.‏

Before that something else happened. I don't know if I mentioned all of the initiatives of La Pira and the Communist Party and so on. In the end, there was an initiative of an English pro-Palestinian body with some MPs and some quite important people. I think the new head of the British Labour Party was in this group. They initiated a peace meeting in London: Arab-Israeli-Palestinian. From Israel, in addition to me, Matti Peled, I think Ya'akov Arnon, communists, and Yossi Amitai [were invited]. Quite a respectable Israeli group, I think.  There was a serious delegation from Egypt, from the Egyptian opposition, from the left-wing party. And they came from all sorts of Arab countries, too. It was a serious congress. Palestinians wanted to come from Beirut, but Beirut airport was closed. I think something had happened there − I forget what. The Palestinians came, Sartawi and Hammami. That was the only time I saw them together. We reached many good decisions. Then, a week or two after that came this business with Sadat and all of these initiatives were wiped off the table as if they had never existed.

During this conference, I saw that Hammami appeared to be frightened. When we got together, it was somewhere between London and the airport. Outside there were constant Arab protests against the Council, against peace. It was Abu Nidal and his crowd. And who stood out among them? Uri Davis, the Israeli.  They were shouting, 'Traitors!' and all sorts of terrible things against the Arabs, not so much against us. I saw that Hammami was quite scared, and was trying avoid direct contact with me. Finally, he sent someone to me to tell me to meet with him in a secluded spot behind the kitchen, and he told me that he had received death threats from Abu Nidal's group. His life was in danger and we should be very cautious regarding the relationship between us. And indeed, a while later he was killed in his office in London by Abu Nidal's group − the same group who murdered Sartawi several years later.

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: Giorgio La Pira, Matti Peled, Ya’akov Arnon, Yossi Amitai, Issam Sartawi, Said Hammami, Abu Nidal

Duration: 3 minutes, 56 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017