Monday, 30 May 2011

The voice of hope from Israel's finest!

Despite what it has become fashionable to think, not all Israelis harbour imperialist expansionist ideals. The voice of sanity is finally emanating from the Middle East, spoken by a group of 21 prominent Israeli writers, scientists, diplomats and politicians.

In an open letter the group, which includes my good friend and teacher, the writer Iris Leal, vow to support the establishment of a Palestinian state:

Here is their open letter:
Palestinian leaders have made clear their intention to ask the United Nations General Assembly to recognise the independence of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
This declaration is both a challenge and an opportunity for all sides. It is a decisive moment.
The failure of the international community and primarily of the United States to renew peace negotiations reflects an undeniable and disconcerting reality – peace has been taken captive by the "Peace Process". The ongoing construction of settlements in the West Bank East-Jerusalem, and Israel’s refusal to freeze construction in the interest of negotiations indicate that the current leadership of Israel uses the peace process as a distraction manoeuvre rather than a means to conflict resolution.
In the face of endless procrastination and mutual distrust, a declaration of Palestinian independence is not only legitimate, but also a positive and constructive step for the benefit of the two nations.
As Israelis, we avow that if and when the Palestinian people declares independence in a sovereign state to exist side by side with Israel in peace and security we shall support such declaration. We will recognise a Palestinian state based on 1967 line, with necessary land swaps by a 1:1 ratio and with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.  The Gaza strip should also be recognised as part of the Palestinian state as long as its leadership acknowledges Israel’s right to existence.
We call upon countries of the world to openly support the Palestinian declaration, based on the aforementioned principles.
Such a support may provide a framework for proper negotiations between the two sovereign states.

1    Lea Aini, author
2    Prof. Arie Arnon,
3    Prof. Bernard Avishai
4    Nir Baram, author
5    Ilan Baruch, former ambassador to South Africa
6    Michael Ben Yair, former Attorney General of Israel
7    Avraham Burg, former Speaker of the Knesset and former Chairman of the    Jewish Agency
8    Prof. Sidra Dekoven-Ezrahi
9    Prof. Yitzhak Galnoor, former Civil Service Commissioner of Israel
10    Prof. Moshe Halbertal, co-author of the IDF ethical code
11     Prof. Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize laureate
12     Dr. Menachem Klein
13     Iris Leal, author
14     Dr. Alon Liel, former Director General of the Foreign Ministry
15     Prof. Avishai Margalit, Israel Prize laureate
16     Ronit Matalon, author
17     Prof. Yair Oron
18     Prof. David Shulman
19     Prof. Shulamit Volkov
20     Prof. Menachem Yaari, Israel Prize laureate, former President of the Israel Arts and Science Academy
21     Prof. Yirmiyahu Yovel, Israel Prize laureate

With Fatah and Hamas talking to each other once again, Barack Obama drawing the 1967 lines back into the sand and this enterprising collective now declaring their intent, momentum appears to be gaining apace.

Anyone who cares at least a little about the Middle East immediately feels a sinking sensation in the stomach at the merest mention of peace talks and two state solutions. Yet until there exists peace between two states living side by side, we cannot afford to give up hope.


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