Subj:  Israeli and Palestinian voices for peace
Date:  11/24/00 8:26:12 AM Pacific Standard Time
From:  Cmepdc
BCC:  LabibKobti


November 24, 2000 To CMEP's email network
In the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, ads placed by a group of Palestinians and by a group of Israelis provide insight beyond the violence that dominates the news and shows the determination by people on both sides to revive hope for peace.

Americans for Peace Now: Middle East Peace Report, November 20
(APN is affiliated with the Israeli peace group, Peace Now)

Palestinian Peace Partners:
A group of 120 Palestinian academic and public figures published an urgent statement to the Israeli people underscoring their desire for peaceful relations.  They said, in part, "Many of us were in the streets over these recent weeks, holding neither guns nor stones.  We were holding candles to commemorate the deaths of our students, neighbors and relatives who tried to make the world hear with their lives what we were unable to with our words.  The naïve and dangerous notion that Palestinians took to the streets following Yasir Arafat's orders is not only an insult to our intelligence but also a clear sign of the lack of understanding of the reality in which we live.  We are deeply concerned that the conflict has, at times, dangerously spiraled into an ethnic/religious one, as the pogroms against Arab citizens of Nazareth, the lynching of the two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah and the numerous mob attacks on synagogues and mosques have shown.  The profoundly irresponsible and self-serving act of the Barak government in allowing Ariel Sharon onto the Haram al-Sharif shows not just an alarming lack of judgment, but also a total disregard for Palestinian, Arab and Muslim sensibilities."  (Ha'aretz advertisement, 11/10/00)

Four Principles for Negotiations:
The Palestinian statement continued, "All of us are firm believers in an equitable and just negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians that recognizes the right to self-determination.  However, we, like our communities, have lost hope in the possibility of resolving the current inequities in the framework of the Oslo agreements and the exclusive American 'brokerage' of the process.  We believe that we must find an equitable basis for peace which must necessarily take the following broad principles as a point of departure:  1) Negotiations must be based on the principles that all the lands occupied by Israel in 1967 are, in fact, occupied territories and that peace will only be achieved by ending the occupation of these territories and thus enabling Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination and sovereignty.  2) East Jerusalem is part of these Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967.  Consequently, a final settlement must include Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem and the commitment to Jerusalem as the recognized capital of two states.  3) Israel's recognition of its responsibility in the creation of the Palestinian refugees in 1948 is a pre-requisite to finding a just and lasting solution of the refugee problem in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions.  4) Both sides must recognize the spiritual and historical affinities of each other to sites and locations within their own borders and they must affirm and guarantee the access and protection of the other people to these places within their own borders.  But in neither case should the existence of such sites be used to advance extra-territorial claims to locations within each other's borders."  (Ha'aretz advertisement, 11/10/00)

Commentary on the Statement:
Danny Rabinowitz wrote in Ha'aretz that, "The substance of this petition is, of course, extremely important.  Some of the principles it sets forth were perhaps outside the context of public debate in Israel up until a year ago.  However, many Israelis today are increasingly aware of the fact that discussion of those principles can no longer be avoided.  However, beyond the presentation of such principles, the very fact that Palestinians are openly addressing the Israeli public during the present period is even more significant than what the petition itself says.  In their direct appeal, the Palestinians who have signed this petition are offering to the Israeli public the opportunity to make contact with a central player that has, up until now, been absent from the picture portrayed by Israel's political leadership and electronic media: a secular, civic, sane Palestinian peace movement."  One of the signers of the petition, Dr. Salim Tamari of Bir Zeit University, noted that intellectuals and academics "have a special role in society, and this is to go beyond the sentiments of the masses and see beyond the official line."  Therefore, while various Palestinian groups, among them key Fatah activists, announced at the outbreak of the intifada that they have cut off all contact with Israelis, "we felt," says Tamari, "that a group of people must focus and act beyond mass sentiments that say 'No' to any kind of contact with Israelis.  We say that we cannot put all the Israelis in one basket, and that we say that there are still parts of Israeli society that believe in peace and in just and egalitarian conditions in a peace agreement."  Another signer from Bir Zeit University, Islah Jad, added, "We realized that no one was directly addressing Israeli public opinion.  We felt that the calls coming from the Arab world-like the calls for war-do not represent the situation and our position.  And at a time when the Israeli media are distorting and misusing various publications in the Palestinian media, we felt a need to say something clear and representative that would express what we see in Palestinian society as a whole."  (Ha'aretz, 11/14 & 17/00)

Israeli Intellectuals Issue Their Own Statement:
Several leading Israeli intellectuals-including Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua, David Kimche, Shlomo Gazit, Moshe Maoz, and David Grossman-issued their own statement in Ha'aretz last week on the current situation.  Their petition said, in part, "The end of Israel's rule over the Palestinian people and the establishment of a stable and prosperous Palestinian state are not only in the Palestinians' interest.  They are also in Israel's vital interest.  Only the end of the occupation will enable the two peoples to live a normal life.  It will also enable [us] to solve the grave social problems that have been pushed aside in both societies.  The military victory of 1967 will turn into a disaster if we can't convert the territorial gains into mutual recognition and peace.  Unless we withdraw from the occupied lands there will be no peace and no security here.The concept of sacredness of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories prevents the possibility of creating a viable Palestinian state.  Some ten million Palestinians and Israelis must not be held hostage of the settlements.  Barak's government has not dismantled even one settlement.  It has invested even more than Netanyahu's government in developing and strengthening the settlements.  If this is not a lack of honesty, it is a lack of wisdom.  Leaving the settlements in position and expanding them prevents any possibility of drawing a sensible border between Israel and Palestine.  In fact, it means that the conflict will go on forever.  We call upon the Israeli government to announce a freeze in its settlement policy and to recognize the border of June 4, 1967 as the basis for the border between Israel and Palestine.  Mutually agreed upon exchange of land is the best way to solve the problem of borders.  Most settlements will have to be evacuated.  We call upon the Palestinian leadership to announce its readiness to settle the conflict not by violence but by negotiations aimed at full coexistence.  For all our sakes, return to the negotiating table." (Ha'aretz advertisement, 11/18/00)