Israeli envoy to Arafat dies of cancer

jerusalem (ap) | Yossi Ginossar, a top Israeli security agent who served as a behind-the-scenes envoy to the Palestinians in peace negotiations, often holding nighttime talks with Yasser Arafat, has died. He was 58.

Ginossar, who had cancer, died at home late Monday, Jan. 12.

Ginossar, who served for 19 years in Israel’s Shin Bet security service, forged close ties with Palestinian officials during peace negotiations in the 1990s.

A shadowy figure, he was the one Israeli leaders would call on after official negotiators went to bed. He often visited Arafat in late-night meetings to share the thoughts of Israel’s top leaders and to hear Arafat’s concerns, said Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians’ chief negotiator.

Ginossar served three former Israeli prime ministers: Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak.

Days after Rabin’s 1995 assassination, Ginossar helped arrange Arafat’s visit to Rabin’s widow, Leah. It was Arafat’s first trip to Israel since the start of the peace process.

Ginossar’s work and business dealings put him at the center of several scandals. He was one of 11 Shin Bet agents convicted of trying to cover up the fatal beatings of two Palestinians who hijacked a bus in 1984.

Ginossar received a presidential pardon and later quit the service. He went on to become a successful businessman.