President Rivlin: Uri Avnery Was a Fighter for Freedom of Expression

Opposition leader Livni: Avnery planted the idea of peace before it was part of the public discourse

Uri Avnery at Rabin Square, 2017
Meged Gozani

President Revuen Rivlin said on Monday that Uri Avnery, the veteran peace activist who died at the age of 94, was "the eternal opposition figure" whose fight for freedom of expression "paved the way of Israel as a young country."

"We had strong differences, but they paled in contrast to the aspiration to build a free and strong society here," Rivlin said.  

Avnery, a veteran left-wing journalist, lawmaker and peace activist, died Monday in Tel Aviv. A founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement, Avnery was also one of the first Israelis to actively advocate for the establishment of a Palestinian state, more than 70 years ago.

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Labor party head Avi Gabbay said Avnery "taught us to see life from the other side's perspective. One doesn't have to agree, but one should understand and know."

Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni described Avnery as "a brave journalist and a rare and trailblazing man" who advocated the ideas of peace before it was a part of the public discourse. "He held on to his beliefs even when under attack," she said.  

Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List party, remembered Avnery as "a dear man who dedicated his life to peace, to a better future and to the establishment of a Palestinian state." His voice and ideas, said Odeh, "will continue to resonate after he's gone."

Habayit Hayehudi leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett said: "Uri Avnery was the editor of 'Haolam Hazeh,' which was a loud and innovative newspaper for its time, and as far as I can remember fought in “Samson Foxes” unit in the War of Independence and helped establish the country. I was very much against his views but we are definitely a democratic country, and may he rest in peace.