Ron Pundak, one of the architects of the Oslo peace process in the 1990s, passed away today at the age of 59 after a battle with cancer.
From 2001-2012, Pundak directed the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv. He then chaired the Israeli Peace NGO Forum, an umbrella organization of 60 nonprofits.
“Ron Pundak was a warrior for peace until his last breath, a man of values,” said President Shimon Peres in a statement. “He dedicated his entire adult life to the fight for peace between us and our neighbors. He was willing to do anything for peace, to give every moment of his life. When it came to peace, he knew no compromise, he chased justice and breathed peace. He was a passionate man for whom peace burned like an eternal flame. He was passionate and encouraged passion in others; he was dedicated, and inspired dedication in others.”
In 1991, Pundak, a native of Tel Aviv, graduated from the University of London with a PhD in Middle Eastern political history and returned to Israel, where he started working for the Haaretz newspaper. A short while later, he reconnected with his old friend Yair Hirschfeld, who at the time served as a non-paid adviser to Labor MK Yossi Beilin. In what was a period of relative optimism, inspired by the Madrid Peace Conference, Hirschfeld reactivated contacts with local Palestinian leaders that he had established in the 1970s and 1980s. Hirschfeld had good relations with senior Palestinian figures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including Faisal Husseini, Hanan Ashrawi, Ziad Abu Zayad and Sari Nusseibeh.
Read more: Times of Israel