OBITUARY: General Matti Peled

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The Independent Online
In the early 1970s, when a group of us were trying to bring together Israelis and Palestinians who believed in compromise, Matti Peled was a godsend, writes Michael Adams [further to the obituary by Joseph Finklestone, 16 March].

Rational and unemotional, he had had an outstanding career as a soldier, but had come to the conclusion that if Israel was to live in peace it was essential to come to terms with the Palestinians and to recognise that they too had rights in Palestine. In September 1977 we persuaded him to come to London, with the magazine editor Uri Avnery, to attend a conference organised by the late John Reddaway on behalf of the Parliamentary Associations for Euro-Arab Co- operation. There they met, for the first time in public, two prominent Palestinians:, Said Hammami, the PLO representative in London, and Issam Sartawi, who acted as a kind of lightning conductor for Yasser Arafat in his attempts to evolve a strategy for peace with Israel.

All four men were courageous optimists who opposed the hawkish tendency in both their camps. Back there in 1977 it looked for a moment as though they might break through the wall of suspicion that separated Israelis and Palestinians. But the moment passed and the leadership of Israel fell into the hands of the extremists, first Menachem Begin, then Yitzhak Shamir.