A Joint Palestinian-Israeli Appeal to the International Community: A Just Peace, The Only Way Out

in:

It becomes ever clearer that, in pursuing its goal of opening the occupied territories to unlimited Jewish settlement, the Sharon regime in Israel has undertaken escalating and unlimited violence to cow the Palestinians into submission, to destroy their leadership and, if possible, completely drive them away from their homeland. In this dire situation, Palestinian and Israeli human rights and peace organisations meeting in east Jerusalem on May 21st issued an unprecedented joint appeal to the ‘international community’, which we reproduce below.  The meeting took place just after Israel deployed F-16 warplanes, a significant escalation of the violence.

Israel's use of F-16 warplanes for the first time since the 1967 War against targets in the heavily populated cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarem, and Gaza signals a dangerous escalation of the conflict to which the world cannot be indifferent.  Israel's massive attacks (just before the conference) represent a concerted attempt to break Palestinian resistance to an unjust and imposed "peace," to use its powerful military arsenal to browbeat the Palestinians into submission, and specifically to cause the collapse of the Palestinian Authority. Behind the rhetoric of self-defence, of blaming the Palestinians for the violence, lies an absolute refusal to abandon its occupation, and in particular its steadily expanding settlements. While we deplore the loss of innocent life in the attack on the Netanya shopping centre, an act immediately condemned by the Palestinian Authority as well, this is no way justifies the Israel government's attempt to cast its military campaign against the Palestinian people as mere "reaction." There is no symmetry here, no proportional or sensible link. The Israeli government presents its actions as "self-defence," as though there were no occupation. Seven months of attacks with Apache helicopters, tanks, missiles and troops culminated (but did not end) in Friday's attacks on Palestinian cities with US-supplied F-16 warplanes. Add to this the destruction of hundreds of homes over the past seven months, the uprooting of thousands of fruit trees and the clearing of hundreds of acres of farmland, the wholesale attacks on the Palestinian infrastructure and the killing of more than 500civilians, many of them children, and the claim of mere "reaction" collapses. So, too, does the illusion of symmetry. Israeli policy, initiated by Ehud Barak and escalated by Ariel Sharon, highlights the futility of trying to impose an inadequate solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by force. There is only one way out: through a just peace based on an end to the Israeli Occupation, the emergence of a viable and truly sovereign Palestinian state and the resolution of the refugee issue in accordance with UN Resolution 194. Despite the current polarisation of our peoples, we believe that the overwhelming majorities in both our societies desire a genuine peace. We, representatives of Palestinian and Israeli human rights and peace organisations, call on the international community:

·         To end the Israeli government's escalation of military force against the Palestinian people, to lift the multiple siege on Palestinian towns and villages, to put an end to Israel's policy of political assassinations, extra judicial killings and abduction of targeted Palestinian political figures and activists, to stop the destruction of human lives, to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes and to stop the uprooting of trees and confiscation of land.

·         To take immediate and concrete steps in providing international protection to the Palestinian people;

·         To oppose Israeli attempts to strengthen its Occupation, including settlement activities, as called for by the Egyptian-Jordanian initiative and the Mitchell Commission;

·         To hold Israel accountable according to the principles of international humanitarian law and UN Resolutions; and

·         To ensure that any peace settlement be based on a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories, including east Jerusalem, and conformity with United Nations Resolutions 242, 338 and 194, and the 'land-for-peace' equation, formally adopted in Washington DC in 1993.Only a just peace will free both our peoples from the tragic loss of life this weekend has brought us.

The Appeal was signed by : Hanan Ashrawi of MIFTAH, Uri Avneri of Gush Shalom (Peace Now) Khader Sheqirat of LAW, Leah Tsemel and Attorney Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

See also: Petition from Israeli intellectuals