URI Avnery, an Israeli journalist and peace activist who was one of the first to openly advocate for a Palestinian state, has died at the age of 94.

Avnery died at a Tel Aviv hospital after suffering a stroke, just weeks before his 95th birthday.

A member of Israel’s founding generation, he fought in its war of independence before becoming a publisher, member of parliament, author and activist.

For decades, his easily recognisable thick white beard and white hair made him a symbol of the Israeli peace camp.

In the 1982 Lebanon War, he famously sneaked into besieged Beirut to talk to Israel’s then-nemesis, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat.

Avnery challenged successive Israeli governments in arguing that a Palestinian state was the only way to secure peace for a democratic Israel with a Jewish majority.