Veteran journalist Jerrold Kessel, whose career covering Israel and the Middle East for dozens of major news organizations lasted over five decades, passed away on Thursday in Jerusalem after a long battle with cancer. He was 66.

Kessel is a former Haaretz columnist and longtime CNN Mideast correspondent who covered the Israel-Palestinian conflict, regional wars and peace efforts.

Kessel reported for CNN in Jerusalem from 1990-2003. His thick white beard and South African accent were immediately recognizable to viewers as he covered Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Mideast violence and the 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

After leaving CNN, Kessel continued writing for several newspapers, including a column for Haaretz called "The Sakhnin Diaries," which was later turned into a documentary film, and his weekly 'On the Couch' sports column in Haaretz English Edition.

Kessel is survived by his wife Lorraine, a son and two grandchildren. His funeral will be held on Friday in central Israel.