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Rabin’s decision to deal directly with the PLO


No deal without Yasser Arafat
Uri Avnery Social activist
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[Yitzhak] Rabin was Minister of Defence, then Arik Sharon set up something called Village Leagues, led by a man named [Mustafa] Dudin from one of the villages in Bethlehem, but nothing came of this. So Israel recognized the Village Leagues and supported it, but not one single Arab joined it, and Dudin was shunned by everyone as a traitor. So this option died. Then the Minister of Defence, Yitzhak Rabin, wanting to understand how to proceed, invited the heads of the Arab cities one at a time, and I did the same thing. There was not actually any one leader recognized by the Arab public in the West Bank, but every city and every region had its own recognized leader who was usually a representative of the most important family or clan in the city. There was Jabari in Hebron, Malham in Halhul, Freij in Bethlehem, Karim Khalaf in Al Bireh, Kanaan and Shakaa – two of them – in Nablus, and so on. These were families like Husseini in Jerusalem, Faisal Husseini, a great person, and also Nusseibeh, and another two or three. I visited them all the time. Have I already spoken about the meeting with Sasson, the advisor? I spoke about it. It was based on the meetings with these highly respected individuals. Rabin, as Minister of Defence, did the same thing: he invited them all to meet him, not together but one by one and asked each of them what they wanted. They all agreed with everything he said, that they need to make peace and recognize Israel, etc and then he said: ‘So let us work together on this’ and everyone, one by one, told him: ‘No, I'm just a mayor. If you want to talk Peace go to Yasser Arafat in Tunis’.

רבין היה שר בטחון, ואז אריק שרון הקים דבר שנקרא "אגודת הכפרים”, בראשות אדם בשם דודין מאחד הכפרים בבית לחם ולא יצא מזה כלום. אז ישראל הכירה באגודת הכפרים ופינקה אותו, אבל אף ערבי אחד לא הצטרף לאגודת הכפרים ודודין הוחרם כבוגד ע"י כולם. אז האופציה הזאת מתה. אז שר הבטחון, רבין, רצה להבין איך להתקדם והזמין בזה אחר זה את ראשי הערים הערביות. בתקופה ההיא אני עשיתי אותו הדבר. כלומר, לא היה מנהיג מוכר לציבור הערבי בגדה המערבית, אבל בכל עיר ובכל אזור היה מנהיג מוכר שבדרך כלל היה נציג המשפחה, החמולה הכי חשובה באזור או בעיר. אז היו הג'עברים בחברון, היה מלחם בחלחול, היה פרייג' בבית לחם, היה, כארים חאלף באל בירה, היה כנאען ושקעה, שניים, בשכם, וכן הלאה. זה משפחות כמו חוסייני בירושלים, פייסל חוסייני, אדם נהדר, וקצת גם נוסייבה, ועוד איזה שניים-שלושה. ואני הלכתי לבקר את כולם בשעתו. האם אני סיפרתי על הפגישה עם ששון, היועץ של, אה? סיפרתי. זה היה על סמך הפגישות האלה עם הנכבדים. רבין, בתור שר הבטחון, עשה את אותו הדבר: הוא הזמין את כולם אליו, לא יחד, אחד אחד. שאל אחד אחד מה הם רוצים. כולם הסכימו עם כל מה שהוא אמר – שצריכים לעשות שלום ולהכיר בישראל וכו' וכו', ואז כשהוא אמר: "אז בואו נפעל בעניין זה" כולם, אחד אחד, אמר לו: "לא, אני רק ראש עיר, פעולה פוליטית זה עם טוניס, עם יאסר ערפאת.‏"


Uri Avnery (1923-2018) was an Israeli writer, journalist and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. As a teenager, he joined the Zionist paramilitary group, Irgun. Later, Avnery was elected to the Knesset from 1965 to 1974 and from 1979 to 1981. He was also the editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine, 'HaOlam HaZeh' from 1950 until it closed in 1993. He famously crossed the lines during the Siege of Beirut to meet Yasser Arafat on 3 July 1982, the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Avnery was 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).

Listeners: Anat Saragusti

Anat Saragusti is a film-maker, book editor and a freelance journalist and writer. She was a senior staff member at the weekly news magazine Ha'olam Hazeh, where she was prominent in covering major events in Israel. Uri Avnery was the publisher and chief editor of the Magazine, and Saragusti worked closely with him for over a decade. With the closing of Ha'olam Hazeh in 1993, Anat Saragusti joined the group that established TV Channel 2 News Company and was appointed as its reporter in Gaza. She later became the chief editor of the evening news bulletin. Concurrently, she studied law and gained a Master's degree from Tel Aviv University.

Tags: Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon, Mustafa Dudin, Yasser Arafat

Duration: 3 minutes, 37 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017