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www.alliance21.org > Workgroups > Thematic Groups > Building Peace: Understanding First, So We Can Act > Journey to Palestine: Report

Building Peace: Understanding First, So We Can Act

Building Peace: Understanding First, So We Can Act

Proposals for further action

The least one can say is that the crisis opened by the Israeli army intervention in Ramallah and other Palestinian cities on March 29, 2002 will be long-lasting and treacherous.
After the second and last meeting of Colin Powell with Yasser Arafat on Wednesday, April 17, we were able to see that diplomacy is powerless. Neither the government of George W. Bush, nor the European Union, nor the Princes and leaders of the Arab States, nor the United Nations have been able to get the Israeli government to change their policy. Arafat remains imprisoned with the Palestinian leaders and the internationals in Ramallah.
One of the main leaders of the Palestinian resistance, Marwan Barghouti, has been arrested. The Israeli army will not soon withdraw from its present positions and if it does, it will only be to intervene again immediately.
The suffering and hate accumulated within the Palestinian population are immeasurable. New human bombs will certainly explode in the region and elsewhere. It is likely that some Palestinian groups will start the Intifada again and others will try to launch guerrilla-warfare operations on the Israeli checkpoints. The great majority of Israelis will continue to live in fear. Some will question, consciously or unconsciously, the intolerable condition of an Israeli society based on a people’s oppression, the Palestinian people, which is surviving on the same land.

This crisis will be long and complex. Is it possible to act for the long term and to do so now, when we are in this crucial and painful short term? Will the so-called international community, despite the many first street demonstrations organized everywhere in the world in solidarity with the Palestinian people, be condemned to helplessness, then to indifference? Will the new international civil society, which is taking shape and growing stronger and stronger in this beginning of a century, be capable of facing the challenges represented by the search for peace in the region and the recovery of the rights of the Palestinian people, starting with the right to live on their own land? Will the Israelis themselves be capable of refusing the war policy of the present government and of backing a process aiming for sustainable peace with the Palestinians and the peoples of the region?

Despite the difficulties in finding a short-term solution, our Palestinian and Israeli partners insisted on the necessity of extending outside mobilization through educational campaigns, demonstrations, and lobbying actions, especially in the Western countries, with the objective of pressing Israel, through the implementation of sanctions and other means of action, to put an end to the occupation and to accept to draw up a durable solution.

The challenges opened by this crisis constitute an unprecedented challenge for those who continue to fight for living in peace in a world of diversity.
In spite of the considerable difficulties that we are currently undergoing, an essential conviction was confirmed during and after this short journey that we are reporting on here: the paths to persevering in the search for peace in the region are still open. Even more importantly, we met with Palestinian partners and Israeli ones as well, some of which we already knew, who are still willing to move forward. Truthfully, without them any attempt to take up these paths would be practically impossible.
One of the key difficulties, however, which was expressed by our Israeli friends in solidarity with the Palestinians is that they often feel isolated, not only with regard to the Israeli society, but also to the Palestinians themselves. For the Palestinians who are trying to work with the Israelis, it is also difficult to do so, because they can easily be accused of being traitors. According to our Palestinian and Israeli interlocutors, a social grassroots alliance between the various sectors of the Israeli society and the Palestinians is an indispensable condition to reducing the social and political support of a government incapable of providing the Israelis with safety.

There are various tasks:

In the short term, the answer to the call launched by the internationals who decided to remain in Arafat’s HQ, requires an urgent presence in Palestine. In spite of the fact that the possibilities of entering Israel will become difficult, the ever-greater presence of people trying to meet with the Palestinians, and also with the peace-seeking Israelis, is inevitable.
Similarly, the siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the redeployment of the Israeli army in other cities and Palestinian camps requires permanent attention to try to avoid the pursuit of the violation of basic rights.
The search for the dead and for survivors, aid to the populations displaced by force to the surroundings of some of the camps, and sending emergency aid, all remain, precisely, emergency tasks.

In the medium term, it is important to organize many actions in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and in whatever cities it is possible, in order to facilitate the participation of various components of the international civil society wishing to contribute to the search for peace and solidarity with Palestine and also with peace-seeking Israelis.
It is here, on the number of medium-term initiatives that need to be taken, and which can be started now, in this short and crucial term, that the various Workshops of the Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and United World can play a key role. A debate on the Charter of Human Responsibilities and the most relevant Proposal Papers certainly constitutes an essential contribution to begin to build a new future in this deeply broken region.
The partners that we met say they are ready to organize seminars and meetings on a number of crucial themes for the future of the region such as, for example:
" the reconstruction of the cities and villages in the territories controlled by the Israeli army,
" the implementation of an economy of solidarity in the urban and rural zones,
" the need for a renewal of the political structures and of the élite so that they are capable of giving new energy to the struggle of the Palestinian people,
" the conditions of a social alliance between the Palestinians and the Israelis,
" experience sharing among the various social movements fighting for peace, with the participation of Asians, Africans, and Latin Americans to reinforce the presence of North Americans and Europeans,
" appreciation of the various forms of artistic expression of Palestinian artists and their circulation within the Israeli society,
" the implementation of an interreligious dialogue capable of contributing to overcoming the cleavages that divide the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian peoples, as well as the evaluation of the conditions likely to make a multi-religious society viable, etc.

Finally, we must pay particular attention to backing the various pacific demonstrations and the innovative forms of expression of the movements fighting for peace. It is certain that the peace partisans will meet enormous obstacles, due mainly to the repression of a government that will not hesitate to crush this movement. It will also be necessary to generate the conditions for a constructive dialogue between the Palestinians and the Israelis fighting for peace through pacific means and the Palestinian groups favoring armed opposition to the occupant.
However, it is to be hoped that the great majority of Palestinians will succeed in reinforcing the side of those who will continue to fight for peace. With this aim in view, it is not only desirable, but indispensable that they should succeed in weaving a social alliance with the Israelis who are expressing solidarity with them. We shall then see the emergence of a vast social movement, articulated with an international civil society, which will be reinforced in its search for a different globalization, one where men and women will be able to live in peace in a world of diversity.


Gustavo Marin
Director of the Forum for a New World (...)
+ de 26 article(s)

Karine Goasmat
Exemole, France
+ de 4 article(s)

Robert David
Alternatives, Canada
+ de 3 article(s)

Journey to Palestine: Report

-Background and preparation
-Chronicle of the meetings

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