Obituary: Amnon Lipkin-Shahak / Israeli peace negotiator
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By Isabel Kershner
Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, a former chief of staff of the Israeli military and a Cabinet minister who was deeply involved in peace talks with the Palestinians, died Wednesday. He was 68.
His death was confirmed by a spokeswoman at the Hadassah Medical Center in southwest Jerusalem, where he had been treated for cancer.
Mr. Lipkin-Shahak, who reached the peak of his military career as a general in the mid-1990s, embodied the spirit of that period, when Israel balanced hopes for a permanent peace with the Palestinians against the country's inherent security challenges.
Mr. Lipkin-Shahak was deputy chief of staff and chief of staff during the years before and after Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo Accords, the first peace agreements with the Palestine Liberation Organization. He became an important intermediary between Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and was an Israeli negotiator at the Camp David summit meeting with the Palestinians in 2000.
"There wasn't anybody that the Palestinians trusted more than Amnon," recalled Martin S. Indyk, who was involved in the peace process as a U.S. diplomat. "He exuded integrity. He was a warrior in the cause of peace."
Mr. Lipkin-Shahak was born in Tel Aviv on March 18, 1944. As a teenager he studied at a military academy in Haifa, and at 18 he joined the military's paratroop brigade. He served as a paratroop commander during the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 and as a deputy brigade commander in the 1973 war.
He was twice awarded the Medal of Courage, once for his role in a bold operation against Palestinian militant bases in Jordanian territory in 1968, and again for his part in a 1973 assault on militant PLO leaders and their headquarters in Beirut. In the 1973 assault, the Israeli fighters landed from the sea in what is broadly regarded as one of the most daring raids in Israeli history.
Mr. Indyk recalled that when he first met Mr. Lipkin-Shahak during his time as Israel's military intelligence chief, a post he held from 1986 to 1991, the general was already arguing that Israel would have to recognize the PLO as the legitimate leadership of the Palestinians if it wanted to resolve the conflict.
He is survived by his wife, Tali Lipkin-Shahak, a journalist, and five children.
First Published December 22, 2012 12:00 am