Israeli, Palestinian Leaders Honor Late Peace Activist Uri Avnery in Ceremony

'We share your grief and hope we'll work together for peace,' letter from Palestinian President Abbas says

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Uri Avnery's farewell ceremony, Tel Aviv, Israel, August 22, 2018
Uri Avnery's farewell ceremony, Tel Aviv, Israel, August 22, 2018Credit: Moti Milrod
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

Dozens paid tribute Wednesday to late Israeli journalist and peace activist Uri Avnery, whose casket has been placed in the entrance lobby of the Israeli Journalists Association in Tel Aviv.

Avnery, who passed away Monday, requested no funeral be held in his honor and that his body be cremated.

The ceremony was attended by former Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon, lawmakers Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), Ayman Odeh (Joint List) and Dov Khenin (Joint List), as well as a five-man delegation from the Palestinian Authority and several Israeli cultural and media figures.

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Former Knesset Speaker, Avraham Burg, told Haaretz that Avnery's journey "from a boy in Germany to the heart of Zionism and from there, the entire path – with a hope that never ends – is a journey that is more than personal. It's a great movement which has yet to expire."

Burg went on to say that Avnery was "bigger than the sum of his ideas, and he represents something very authentic."

The Palestinian delegation, which included international relations aide Nabil Sha'ath, read a letter sent by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "We received the sad news of the passing of the journalist and politician after a long life of successful work and struggle for peace and co-existence … we share your grief and hope God gives you a long life and that we work together for peace," the letter read.

Former Defense Minister and Labor MK Amir Peretz commended Avnery's "bravery to take your citizens to a place they will understand only when they reach it," adding that Avnery always acted and spoke out of love for Israel and the will to secure its future.

Odeh urged that Israel must follow Avnery's vision of a two-state solution, and implored Sha'ath that Avnery's name be memorialized in the streets of Ramallah "To show that we are meant to co-exist."

Israeli journalist Anat Saragusti called Avnery "an independent" who didn't belong to any camp and fostered generations of journalists. "He wanted to be a bugle of truth and he led brave, independent investigative journalism," she said.

In his eulogy, Sha'ath told of reading issues of Avnery's Haolam Haze newspaper smuggled into Jordan, commending his bravery in the face of incitement and violence in his own country. "His death filled the Palestinians with sorrow, but we believe he is not the only one who wants peace and that the peace process is not dead. I wish for us to follow in his path."

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