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Copyright 1998 by the authors and PEACE. All materials are the intellectual property of the respective contributors. Unless noted otherwise, they may be reproduced provided that credit is given to the authors, and to PEACE - a Mid-East Dialog Group. Email/Web postings should include these addresses:
Ami Isseroff;
Ameen Hannoun;
Mid East Viewpoints:


July, 3, 1998

Final Settlement/ Peace Watch/ Dialogue


Wanted - New Readers and Participants for PEACE

PeaceWatch and Arafat - Why  we did it

More About the Final Settlement - from Prof. Ilan Peleg and
Mervin Cassidy.

Rapprochement Dialog Center - Judith Green tells of the activities
of this Jerusalem-based Group.

Sitings - Featured Web sites and services


Wanted - New Readers and Participants for PEACE

PeaceWatch and PEACE dialog forum come to you for free. Why do we do it? For the same reason Eric Lee published BibiWatch - because we want to encourage a grass roots movement for dialog and peace. Which brings us to your 'subscription fee.' Every week we get letters telling us what a great job we are doing. We also get cancellations. The people who like us stay with us, but they are not bringing new participants.

If you like what we are doing, we invite you to pay your way:

  1- Bring new participants - your voluntary 'Fee' is one new reader per
   month. Tell your friends about PEACE - particularly if they live in the
   Middle East. Tell people on internet forums about PEACE, and
   forward PeaceWatch and the PEACE dialog forum to other email
   distribution lists.  Four months ago, PEACE had 2 participants. Now we
   have over 700. If we want to make a difference, we shall need many
   many more. It's up to you!!

  2- Contribute thoughtful essays and comments to this dialog forum -
  Dialog is what makes peace interesting - and helps change opinions.
  Peace is not a spectator sport.



PeaceWatch - Watching Yasser Arafat - Ami Isseroff

The latest edition of PeaceWatch did not deal with Bibi Netanyahu or with the Israeli government at all - but rather with Yasser Arafat. It was not even written by an Israeli - but by Anita Abu-Daya. We have taken up the advice of one reader to 'watch the other side too,'  for the Palestinian leadership shares the blame with the Israeli government for the present state of the Oslo negotiations.

Israelis and Jews are willing to demonstrate against the government, to write articles and publish petitions in newspapers in support of peace. We wanted to show that there are also Arabs and Palestinians who have the courage to criticize their leadership, to say that Chairman Arafat is not acting in the best  interests of the Palestinian people when he adopts bellicose and extreme positions, and to point out that torture and repressive methods used  by the PNA do not serve the Palestinian cause. Readers from 'the other side' should understand from this that
we are trying to create a third 'side' - the side of peace.

Several readers expressed the position that since the PNA has been acting in an irresponsible way, and since there is an element in Arab society that will never accept Israel, therefore Israel should not return any territories or negotiate a compromise on Jerusalem.

This might be a tenable thesis if it could be shown that holding on to the territories was vital to Israeli security or even helped it in any way, or that the PNA itself could become a military force that would destroy Israel. But the territories have become a security liability, and the PNA could not seriously threaten Israeli security. Indeed, a full scale 'war' could well serve as an excuse for Israel to retake all of the territories, if the government wanted to be saddled with the governance
of three million Palestinians.

And here is the rub: what was completely anathema to the Israeli right in 1991 has become a matter of total national consensus. Almost nobody in Israel wants to retake Gaza or Nablus or Jericho. Why? Because it is not in our interest. Peace is in our interest too - in the interest of both 'sides'. Yasser Arafat may make off-the-wall statements about Jerusalem, posture as if he leads the most powerful army in the world and run the PNA on the model of an Eastern European Soviet Satellite from the bad old days. But Israel must do its best to make peace,
and to eliminate the conditions that have made the Palestinian people a fertile breeding ground for demagoguery and terrorist movements.

The actions of the Palestinian leadership are the responsibility of the Palestinian people, and it is they who will have to pay the price of the mistakes of bad leadership. But the actions of the Israeli leadership are the responsibility of Israelis, and we will have to pay for the mistakes of our leaders.

Ami Isseroff



Mervyn Cassidy's scenario is reasonable. Bibi will refuse to recognize the Palestinian State, if and when it is announced. Yet, his refusal will be laughed out of the court of world public opinion, especially after at least 150 states have recognized this "illegal" state. And why will they do so? Because by May 1999, the expected date for the announcement of the Palestinian state, the vast majority of the states will be thoroughly convinced that the Likud Government has not negotiated in good faith.

If Bibi gives the order to re-occupy the "Territories"--as Cassidy reasonably predicts--three likely reactions will occur:

1. The entire world, including the US, will condemn Israel, and 52 years after a Jewish State in the Middle East was endorsed by the UN--it may find itself OUT of the UN (for reference: see Yugoslavia/Serbia).

2. It is possible that many Israelis would refuse to march into Nablus under the leadership of Bibi and Sharon (just as many refused to march into Beirut under the Begin/Sharon duo).

3.The Palestinians--I predict--will not accept an Israeli invasion lying down, and will resist with all of their LIMITED power. Now, I hope no one will dare pose the question: "But how many divisions does Arafat have?!". Israel may win the war to
reoccupy the Territories, just as it "won" the 1973 (Yom Kippur), 1982 (Lebanon), or 1987 (Intifada) wars.

An Israeli reoccupation of the major Palestinian cities is militarily possible, but it will lead not only to a bloodshed but to a real BLOODBATH. And although many more Palestinians will die than Israelis, Israeli soldiers and civilians in great number will die. This scenario, almost inevitable if Bibi orders reoccupation, could lead to Bibi's defeat in the election of 2000, unless Labor saves him by agreeing--
under the impression of the war--to form a National Unity Govt...

Worse of all, if this scenario unfolds, the UN, US and others will dictate to Israel an agreement, which in all likelihood will be a lot worse than anything we could get through negotiation.

I find Likud Member Lerner's letter worrisome, because it reflects dangerous naivete. On technicality Lerner is right: Oslo doesn't obligate Israel to accept a Palestinian State within 5 years.  But, Oslo obligates Israel to negotiate in good faith--something Bibi has not done--and to reach a final settlement within 5 years of the initial withdrawal. Politically, morally, and indirectly even legally, Oslo DOES mean a Palestinian State.  Why? In Oslo we (finally...) recognized the Palestinian people; every nation is entitled to self-determination; the Palestinian people are entitled to a full-fledged state, as recognized also by the UN 51 years ago in a resolution which is still valid!.

Frankly, Mr. Lerner, your "plan" is at the best tradition of colonialism, and it is likely to meet the same fate as other racist "plans". You will never find one Palestinian to adopt your autonomy plan, and we progressive Jews who believe in co-existence, will reject it as well.


               Pre-conditions for a Final Settlement - Mervyn Cassidy

I agree with Professor Peleg's comments on my previous discussion of the final settlement, and his objections to Aaron Lerner's alternative proposal.

In my previous article, I urged the Israeli government to take the initiative in negotiations to reach a solution satisfactory to both sides rather than to procrastinate to the point when a solution would be imposed on them which would be less to Israel's advantage.

For such initiative to have any hope of success, I believe that Israel must accept certain " facts on the ground " which may be unpalatable, but are inescapable.

The present relationship with the Arabs in general, and the Palestinians in particular, is greatly influenced by events which took place in the formative stages of the State of Israel. It must be conceded that what was a triumph for the Jews was a catastrophe for the indigenous Palestinians. .

While appreciating the mind set which these events caused, it is the present and the future we should be debating rather than endlessly rehashing the past.

The Palestinians who were evicted from their homes or left to protect their lives, will never be permitted to return short of the conquest of Israel by Palestinian forces. This will never happen as any Palestinian "army " would never be any match for a sophisticated Israeli army and their Arab friends have shown
no military support for their cause.

Should they be entitled to reparations or compensation for their losses ? Of course they should.

An independent Palestinian State must be established to which Israel must give massive aid in acknowledgment of its obligation to right the wrongs of the past. All Palestinians in exile must have the right of return to the new state which the world powers must support to ensure its economic viability.

To propose a " one state solution " is a hypothetical absurdity. The Israelis do not want it and would never countenance it. It is pointless to discuss it.

For an independent Palestinian State to be able to sustain its optimum population, it must encompass the whole of the West Bank and Gaza and these must be connected. There is no justification for Jewish enclaves in these areas from considerations of security or required living space and any continued Jewish
presence can only bring insuperable problems. The justification on religious grounds can be dismissed out of hand.

A shared Jerusalem must be the capital of both Israel and Palestine. The concept of   " Jerusalem, united and undivided, the capital of the Jewish Nation " is a myth. It is already a shared city with three major religious groups, with about one third of its population being non-Jewish, and will continue to be so. World opinion
supports this view and will not continue to idly stand by and permit gross violations of fundamental human rights without tangible protest.
All these areas are emotionally charged but the decision must be made. What is best for Israel, forever a state of war or the possibility of peace?

Rapprochement Dialog Center - Judith Green

(Anyone wishing to join this group based in Jerusalem, please write
to me - Ami Isseroff )

We have been involved in various phases and types of dialogue-action groups since l988 (Intifada related!) particularly in Beit Sahur, near Bethlehem and in Nablus;  now we are also starting a project with a youth group in Gaza.  We see ourselves as a kind of mother organization, that is to nurture new initiatives, to consult with people who are trying new contacts and outreach, making connections between people, etc., as well as running our own groups.

Right now we have bi-weekly dialogue meetings in the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between Peoples in Beit Sahur and this is open to anyone, very informal, returning about 20:30.  In Beit Sahur we also have a young women's' group that meets about once a month. New people are welcome.  We have done a great deal of work with this community, including organizing resistance to
the Har Homa settlement, large scale meetings like the Prayer for Peace in a church in Beit Sahur with 1000's participating.

In Nablus, we have a project called "Face to Face Transformative Dialogue" which takes place one a month, each workshop being 2 days, staying overnight in people's homes.   We are trying to make this reciprocal in the coming year, and finally succeeded this weekend in bringing 20 people to Jerusalem with permits.  The workshop is more on the inner experience of the conflict, it is limited to about 15 on each side, and tries to touch on the pain on both sides - with the object of helping people transform this pain into positive action either communally/politically/personally.  There are facilitators, mainly from mental health background.  The next one will be in Nablus on July 21-2.

In Nablus we are also running a health education project for the 2nd year in a women's center.  It is intended to train childbirth and sex educators in Nablus and the surrounding villages.  There are about 15 women being trained by an Israeli Childbirth organization called "Birthing together." We are probably going to run a similar program in East Jerusalem.

WE are also at the beginning of a project called "Flashback to the Future" which is involved with the issue of the 3 villages which were destroyed in 1967 in the Latrun area and on whose land Canada Park was built.  We are working with a group of Israelis and Palestinians, including representatives from the destroyed villages now living in the Ramallah area to design some sort of reconciliation model through education about history.  There will be some attempt at reparation by perhaps restoring the Moslem cemetery, preparing educational materials about what happened, media coverage, setting up new signs in the Park to acknowledge the former inhabitants, etc.


Izio Rosenman writes from Paris to tell us of the Commitee for Safeguarding the Oslo Accords (Comite Pour la Sauvegarde des Accords D'Oslo) The Commitee has circulated a petition with thousands of signatures calling on Jewish people to protest violations of the Oslo Agreements by the Netanyahu Government:
E-mail :
Web site :
The petition has been published in several newpapers, including
Le Monde and the New York Times.

Ziad Alkabanni is a long-time BibiWatcher and is now a participant in PEACE. Ziad is a Syrian expatriate living in Sweden, where he has set up Syria's Friends  On-Line at
His e-mail: ,

The Mid-East Review of International Affairs (Meria) is a scholarly e-mail journal published by the BESA Institute of Strategic studies. Their Web Site is at:
In addition to subscriptions to MERIA they offer free books. See the web site or write to

Newe Shalom, the Arab/Jewish Israeli village hosts dialog groups (members of the Qalqilya dialog group will be going there next weekend) and has a web site telling about Newe Shalom and their activities at






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