Prominent Israeli peace negotiator Uri Savir dies at 69

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TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Uri Savir, a prominent Israeli peace negotiator and dogged believer in the need for a settlement with the Palestinians, has died, according to Israeli media reports. He was 69.

The reports said he died Friday. No cause of death was given.

As director of the country’s Foreign Ministry, Savir led an Israeli delegation to negotiate a series of interim agreements with the Palestinians in 1993 that became known as the Oslo Accords.

The accords created the Palestinian Authority and set up self-rule areas in the Palestinian territories.

It also produced broken promises, bouts of violence and two failed attempts to negotiate a final peace deal, aftereffects that left its architects with a mixed legacy in both Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Despite hopes for Palestinian statehood dimming since then, Savir remained committed to the vision of a two-state solution until the end.

He often referred to himself as the region’s “last optimist” and stayed in touch with his old Palestinian counterparts.

He also founded a Facebook group, “YaLa Young Leaders,” that brought together young Israelis and Arabs from across the region for online discussions and courses about peace and coexistence. The group has over 800,000 followers.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Savir “strove for a different Middle East.”

“His contribution to Israel is tremendous and is felt to this day,” he tweeted.

Savir was a close advisor to late former Israeli leader Shimon Peres, a driving force behind the peace negotiations, and would go on to help found and lead the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, which promotes cooperation between people in the Middle East.

Savir also briefly served as a legislator in Israel’s parliament.

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