Working towards peace and sustainability

Stop the Bombs: Share the Land, Harvest the Peace.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has festered for more than six decades. Rejectionists on both sides have prevented a just solution and today, as we write, the bombs are falling and the people of Gaza and Israel face the prospect of intensified violence in the days ahead. 

It doesn't have to be this way. There is a path to peace and we here in the United States have tremendous leverage to influence the situation, but we must start by becoming better informed and then working to influence our own government.

Below is a statement on the Israel-Palestine situation adopted by our Peaceworks Steering Committee in June of 2002, at the height of the Second Intifada and Israel's suppression thereof. With the possible exception of a call for a U.N. peacekeeping force, the statement seems as relevant today as it did then. We share it and welcome your feedback via e-mail at mail@midmopeaceworks.org.

We also invite you to join us this Wednesday from 4:30-5:30 p.m. at Broadway & Providence in Downtown Columbia as we demonstrate to Stop the Bombs.

Peaceworks Position on Israel-Palestine Conflict  
 (Adopted 6/3/02)

Peaceworks supports non-violent resolution of conflicts and just solutions that, to the greatest extent possible, are win-win, taking into account the legitimate needs of all parties.

In terms of the Israel-Palestine conflict, we are dealing with a complex situation that denies simple resolution. Peaceworks recognizes that the process of settling diaspora Jews in what is now Israel has led to dislocation of the Palestinians, and that serious injustices have been done to this people. We recognize too that the Jews who settled the state of Israel are also a people who’ve been subjected to terrible oppression. Whatever resolution is arrived at must recognize the legitimate needs of both peoples. The Israelis and the Palestinians both deserve a secure future free of victimization.

To achieve a just settlement of the conflict, many issues, from territory, water, rights of return, the status of Jerusalem and more remain to be negotiated by the parties. While it is not our place to dictate specific terms of an eventual resolution to the conflict, our position is that the following general guidelines be applied:

•  Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza must end.  Israeli settlers should be repatriated to Israel (or they must accept Palestinian citizenship and live under Palestinian law).

•  Israel and Palestine should co-exist as two sovereign, economical viable states within secure boundaries. Both states must recognize each other’s right to exist and agree to accept as permanent the boundaries established in the settlement.

•  Jerusalem should serve as a joint capital. There should be shared sovereignty over the city and an international authority established to assure unrestricted access to the holy sites of the three major monotheistic faiths.

•  Israel has a moral obligation to assist in the resettlement of Palestinians refugees. As resettlement in what is now Israel is a recipe for more bloodshed, the bulk of the Palestinians should be resettled in a viable, economically sound state of Palestine. Israel should make restitution to those displaced in the 1948 war to help facilitate this, and the international community should join in helping to pay for the costs of establishing Palestine.

The immediate imperative is to take action as quickly as possible to defuse the fighting, stop the killing and prevent a wider conflict. While Israel is much more heavily armed, and therefore more Palestinians have been killed or injured, we recognize that both sides have been using violent means, and we urge a stop to the violence by all parties.

Peaceworks supports a separation of forces and the insertion of a large United Nations peacekeeping force as quickly as possible. Such a force should be maintained until a just and mutually agreeable settlement is arrived at. The United States should support, not oppose as it has until now, United Nations resolutions to achieve this separation.

Should the parties fail to agree to this, the United States should use the leverage we hold to promote peacemaking. We should make it clear that we will eliminate all foreign aid, military and otherwise, to those parties that fail to comply.

Further we should make it abundantly clear that the U.S. will not intervene militarily in the region, with the exception of providing peacekeepers under U.N. command.

The U.S. should take further steps to assure the demilitarization of the region by halting weapons exports, encouraging other weapons suppliers to do the same and promoting verifiable, regional disarmament agreements.