Veteran Israeli dove Yossi Sarid dies at 75

Veteran Israeli dove Yossi Sarid, who championed the cause of a Palestinian state over a political career spanning three decades, died on Friday evening at the age of 75.

AFP| Last Updated: Dec 05, 2015, 17:40 PM IST

Jerusalem: Veteran Israeli dove Yossi Sarid, who championed the cause of a Palestinian state over a political career spanning three decades, died on Friday evening at the age of 75.

Sarid, who was a member of parliament from 1974 to 2006 and served in the government of Yitzhak Rabin which signed the Oslo accords with the Palestinians in the 1990s, died of a heart attack at his home in Tel Aviv.

Opposition Labour party leader Isaac Herzog paid tribute to an "important leader of the Israeli peace camp, a leader whose clear and sharp voice always sounded obstinately and fiercely, with a brave unwavering truth, which he believed with all his heart."

Environment minister then education minister, Sarid led the dovish Meretz party from 1996 to 2003 and, even after his retirement from politics, continued to champion the cause of peace through regular newspaper columns.

Asked last year about the prospects for Israel under what is widely regarded as its most right-wing government ever, Sarid said: "Two main things keep me awake at night -- the occupation of the West Bank and inequality in society, because both threaten the existence (of the state) and not just its quality." 

In his final column, published in the Haaretz newspaper on Friday, he railed against Israeli authorities for the disparity in treatment between Jews and Palestinians convicted of terrorism offences.

"Your Jewish terrorists come first. Their homes will not be demolished, their families will not bear the blame," he wrote.

He was referring to a deterrent policy regularly implemented against the family homes of suspected Palestinian attackers, but not against those of Jews.

Sarid was also an outspoken champion of secularism and strongly opposed the privileges granted by the Israeli state to ultra-Orthodox Jews, which include generous subsidies to religious schools as well as exemptions from military service.