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Israeli peace activist Ron Pundak dies

Friday - 4/11/2014, 9:10am  ET

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Ron Pundak, an Israeli academic who was instrumental in initiating peace talks with the Palestinians in the 1990s, has died. He was 59.

Israeli media say Pundak died on Friday after a long illness.

Pundak helped initiate backdoor channels of communications with the Palestinians that paved the way to the 1993 Oslo Accords, which created the Palestinian Authority and set up self-rule areas for the Palestinians.

Israeli President Shimon Peres eulogized him as a "warrior for peace," saying Pundak "dedicated his entire adult life to the fight for peace between us and our neighbors."

Peres says Pundak "never gave up" pushing for peace with the Palestinians "even when the situation seemed desperate."

Two decades after the landmark accords, peace remains elusive and the latest Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are in disarray.

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