(photo credit: YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)
The death on Tuesday of international law expert and former diplomat Meir Rosenne all but signified the end of the Camp David, Israel-Egypt accords era.
Of the Israelis who participated in the talks, fewer than a handful are still alive.
Rosenne’s passing comes less than a month after that of Yehuda Avner, who at Camp David was then prime minister Menachem Begin’s adviser on Diaspora affairs.
Other members of the delegation who are since deceased include Simcha Dinitz, who was Israel’s ambassador to the US; Moshe Dayan, who was foreign minister; Ezer Weizman, who was defense minister, and Yehiel Kadishai, who was Begin’s bureau chief and trusted confidant.
Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat are also gone, though former US president Jimmy Carter at 90 is still hale, hearty, and currently on a fund-raising campaign.
Rosenne, who celebrated his 84th birthday in February, was famously responsible for drafting Israel’s first peace treaty with an Arab country. He had attended the Camp David negotiations in his capacity as legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry, working closely with then attorney-general Aharon Barak and Elyakim Rubinstein, another legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry and a member of Israel’s delegation to the peace talks with Egypt.
Rosenne later became Israel’s sixth ambassador to France serving from 1979 to 1983, after which he was appointed Israel’s eighth ambassador to the United States, serving from 1983 to 1987 and succeeding Moshe Arens.
While ambassador to the US, Rosenne was indirectly involved in easing restrictions on Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union and in laying the groundwork for the renewal of diplomatic relations between Israel and the USSR.
In January 1987, prior to completing his tour of duty, he met with Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin in Washington and was informed that the Russians were willing to relax their strictures on Jewish emigration. In that year, the two countries established consular ties, and toward the end of 1991 cemented full diplomatic relations.
Rosenne headed or participated in a number of Israeli legal delegations to Washington, Cairo, and Geneva and inter alia participated in Israel-Syria negotiations.
Early in his career he was also a delegate to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and to the Commission on the Sub-Protection of Minorities.
He was also a member of several prestigious international law associations.
Born in Jassy, Romania, Rosenne managed to get to British Manadate-controled Palestine in 1944. He studied political science, international relations, and law in Paris and eventually earned a PhD from the Sorbonne. He was 22 years old when he joined Israel’s Foreign Service and some years later served as consul-general in New York. He left the Foreign Service in 1987 and in 1989 was appointed president of Israel Bonds, a position that he held till 1994.
At various stages he was also legal adviser to Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission and lectured on international law at Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University.
He joined the law firm of Balter, Guth, Aloni & Co. in 1994 and remained actively involved with it and with international legal affairs.
Rosenne was a wonderful raconteur in Hebrew, French, and English, embroidering stories with both suspense and humor. He was one of the speakers at a special conference hosted by the Truman Institute to mark the 30th anniversary of Israel-Egypt relations.
He will be buried at noon on Thursday at Tel Aviv’s Kiryat Shaul Cemetery. He is survived by his wife, Vera, and their daughters, Michal and Daphna, and their families.