Ilan Halevi, a Jewish Palestinian member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, died Wednesday in Paris at the age of 70.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed his condolences in a statement released by the Palestinian News Agency WAFA.
Halevi, who was born in 1943 to a Jewish family in Nazi-controlled France, moved to Israel in 1965. “I came to Israel because in Algeria I discovered the importance of the Palestinian problem. I sat there in coffee houses, I heard people, I spoke with intellectuals and I understood that the Palestinian question preoccupies the people of the Arab world. It is really in the center of their obsessions. I decided I want to study this reality up close and from the inside…I wanted to study the Israeli reality,” Halevi said, as quoted in the 2010 book by Nitza Erel, “Matzpen – Conscience and Fantasy."
Halevi joined the PLO after the Six-Day War, and in the 1970s he joined Matzpen, a now-defunct Israeli socialist anti-Zionist organization. He later led a faction that split from Matzpen, known as the Communist Revolutionary Alliance.” He eventually left Israel for France, where he joined French pro-Palestinian groups.
In 1977, Halevi went to Beirut, where he met with PLO members. In 1982 he received an official role in the organization. Among other functions, he was Fatah’s representative at the Socialist International, a representative for the PLO at the Madrid peace conference, a member of the political committee of the National Palestinian Council and deputy to Nabil Shaath when the latter was the Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister.
Halevi once described himself as “100 percent Jewish and 100 percent Palestinian.”