Uri Avnery is an Israeli peace activist, journalist and writer. He is famous for crossing the lines during the Battle of Beirut to meet Yassir Arafat on July, 3, 1982. This was the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Avnery is also the founder of the Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc) peace movement.
Since 1993, Gush Shalom has often stood alone in its call for the creation of a Palestinian State in all the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the release of all Palestinian prisoners, the dismantling of all existing settlements, and establishing Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and the new State of Palestine, as well as the recognition of Jerusalem as the joint capital of both states. Every week, a political ad sponsored by Gush Shalom is recognized as "setting the agenda for the peace forces at large."
Starting in April 1950 until 1990, Avnery served as the editor-in- chief for Haolam Hazeh a widely-circulated news magazine that has been compared with Time Magazine and Der Spiegel in terms of style. Under his leadership it provided a forum for strong opposition to established Israeli positions. In Haolam Hazeh, Avnery, according to his biographer, "offered opposition to the nationalistic, theocratic 'Jewish state' created by Ben-Gurion," and he advocated for "a modern, liberal state, belonging to all its citizens, irrespective of ethnic, national or religious roots." The magazine also launched Avnery into politics by creating a new political party and helped him win a seat in the Israeli Knesset. The Haolam Hazeh party won two seats in 1969. Avnery served in the Knesset for 8 years initially and served another two-year term starting in 1979.
Avnery is 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).
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