Frieden im Nahen Osten - wird aus Hoffnung Wirklichkeit? : Podiumsdiskussion am 29. Juni 2000 / [Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Abteilung Internationale Zusammenarbeit, Referat Naher und Mittlerer Osten]. - [Electronic ed.]. - Bonn, 2000. - 41 S. = 96 Kb, Text. - ISBN 3-86077-960-5
Electronic ed.: Bonn : FES Library, 2001
Der Friedensprozess im Nahen Osten wird seit 1993 von vielen Menschen in Europa mit großer Spannung und auch mit vielen Hoffnungen verfolgt.
Der Vorsitzende der Palästinenischen Autorität, Yassser Arafat, hatte für die palästinensische Seite erklärt, im September 2000 einen eigenen Staat proklamieren zu wollen. Auf israelischer Seite hatte Ministerpräsident Ehud Barak für das Jahr 2000 außer dem bereits umgesetzten Rückzug israelischer Truppen aus der Besatzungszone im Südlibanon ein endgültiges Abkommen mit den Palästinensern, ein Referendum in Israel über die Rückgabe der seit 1967 besetzten Golan-Höhen an Syrien und ein Friedensabkommen mit Syrien angekündigt.
Divergierende nationale Interessen sowie der innenpolitische Druck auf die jeweiligen Führungen haben die Hoffnung auf eine schnelle Verwirklung eines Friedens immer weiter sinken lassen. Die Gespräche mit Syrien kamen zum Erliegen. Die Verhandlungen in Camp David brachen zusammen. Letzte Bemühungen in Paris scheiterten und der Oktober 2000 sah schließlich die Al-Aksa Intifada.
Um die aktuelle Situation im schwierigen und komplexen Nahost-Friedensprozeß zu analysieren und einen Blick in die Zukunft zu werfen, hatte die Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung hochrangige Vertreter aus Israel, aus Palästina und aus der Bundesrepublik Deutschland zu einer Tagung mit einer öffentlichen Podiumsdiskussion Frieden im Nahen Osten wird aus Hoffnung Wirklichkeit ? am 29.6.2000 in ihr Berliner Konferenzzentrum eingeladen.
Mit Yasser Abed Rabbo, dem palästinensischen Minister für Information und Kultur, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Mitglied des Palästinensischen Legislativrates und Ministerin a.D. für Wissenschaft und Forschung, und Dr.
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Efraim Sneh, Stellvertretender Verteidigungsminister des Staates Israel, Colette Avital, Mitglied der Knesset, sowie Gernot Erler, MdB und Stellvertretender Vorsitzender der SPD-Fraktion, war das Podium durch erfahrene politische Führungspersönlichkeiten prominent besetzt. Die lebhafte Diskussion moderierte Prof. Dr. Gudrun Krämer, Islamwissenschaftlerin an der Freien Universität Berlin. Die Podiumsteilnehmer griffen alle die Fragen auf, die auch nach der Al-Aksa-Intifada noch immer die Menschen im Nahen Osten, aber auch in Europa, bewegen. Keiner kann die Grundfrage nach Frieden mit einem klaren Ja oder auch Nein beantworten. Beide Seiten stehen unter innenpolitischem Druck, sehen die historische Chance, sind aber auch mit vielfältigen historischen Belastungen und psychologischen Argumenten, vor allem aber religiösenTraditionen, konfrontiert. Internationales Recht und internationale Einflüsse kommen noch hinzu.
Beachtlich ist, dass trotz der großen Interessenunterschiede diese Podiumsteilnehmer sich darin einig waren, dass der Dialog zwischen den Konfliktparteien nicht abreissen dürfe. Sie waren alle für die Möglichkeit zu einem solchen Dialog auf neutralem Boden dankbar.
In der aktuellen Situation ist es sicherlich hilfreich, die Argumente dieser Podiumsdiskussion sich zu vergegenwärtigen und dazu beizutragen, dass der Dialog wann, wo und wie auch immer fortgesetzt werden kann und geeignete Ansatzpunkte dafür zu finden und zu nutzen. Die Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung wird sich weiterhin darum bemühen.
Leiter des Referates Naher und Mittlerer Osten / Nordafrika
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Sehr geehrte Frau Dr. Ashrawi, sehr geehrter Herr Minister Abed Rabbo, sehr geehrter Herr Minister Dr. Sneh, sehr geehrter Herr Abgeordneter Erler und last but not least sehr geehrte Frau Professor Dr. Krämer, meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren!
Im Namen des Vorstandes der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung möchte ich Sie zu unserer heutigen Podiumsdiskussion Frieden im Nahen Osten Wird aus Hoffnung Wirklichkeit? ganz herzlich willkommen heißen.
Ich freue mich besonders, dass sich heute Abend hier bei uns im Hause politische Führungspersönlichkeiten aus Israel und den palästinensischen Gebieten gemeinsam mit deutschen Nahost-Experten an einen Tisch setzen, um die gegenwärtige Situation im Nahost-Friedensprozess zu analysieren und einen Blick in die Zukunft zu werfen.
Die Überschrift zu unserer heutigen Diskussion signalisiert bereits, dass es heute nicht nur darum gehen kann, konkrete technische Fragen zur Umsetzung eines Friedens zwischen Israel und Palästina zu stellen. Vielmehr stellt sich zunehmend die Grundsatzfrage: Frieden im Nahen Osten Wird aus Hoffnung Wirklichkeit? Kann es Realität werden, dass die verschiedenen Interessengemeinschaften, Religionen, Völker und Staaten im Nahen Osten in Frieden zusammen oder zumindest nebeneinander leben können? Kann dies zu Anfang des 21. Jahrhunderts verwirklicht werden oder muss es eine Utopie bleiben?
Wahrscheinlich sind wir uns darin einig, dass es sich um einen schwierigen und komplexen Friedensprozess handelt. Besonders interessiert uns nun von den Politikerinnen und Politikern zu erfahren, welche Perspektiven für eine Konfliktlösung und für eine langfristige Krisenprävention bestehen. Und: Welche Rolle können die regional Verantwortlichen, aber auch die internationale Politik mittel- und langfristig übernehmen?
Dass das Thema unserer heutigen Diskussion hochaktuell ist, können wir in den täglichen Nachrichten verfolgen. In diesem Monat haben sich die
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israelischen Truppen aus dem Südlibanon zurückgezogen. Der Generalsekretär der Vereinten Nationen, Kofi Annan, besuchte in der letzten Woche die Region, um sich vor Ort persönlich ein Bild zu machen. Er wies nachdrücklich darauf hin, dass alle UN-Resolutionen zu erfüllen seien, aber er plädierte vor allem auch dafür, dass der Dialog zwischen den Konfliktparteien nicht abreißen dürfe.
Der Fortgang und die Gestaltung des Prozesses, der 1993 mit den geheimen Verhandlungen in Oslo begann und einen ersten konkreten Schritt mit der Unterzeichnung der israelisch-palästinensischen Prinzipienerklärung machte, war geprägt von großen Hoffnungen, aber auch von Enttäuschungen. Unter der Regierung von Benjamin Netanjahu kam der Prozess zwischenzeitlich praktisch zum Erliegen.
Mit dem im Mai 1999 gewählten Premier Ehud Barak, dessen Wahl 14 Tage nach dem Ende der fünfjährigen Interimsperiode stattfand, keimte neue Hoffnung auf baldige Fortschritte im Friedensprozess auf. Diese scheint allerdings inzwischen wieder geschrumpft, vor allem auf palästinensischer Seite.
Zumindest konnte im September 1999 mit dem Abkommen von Sharm El-Sheikh in Ägypten zunächst die Blockade des Prozesses durchbrochen werden. Die Verhandlungspartner einigten sich auf eine zügige Umsetzung der noch nicht erfüllten Verpflichtungen aus der Interimsperiode sowie auf den sofortigen Beginn der Verhandlungen über den endgültigen Status. Diese sollten, so war es ursprünglich geplant, bis Mitte September 2000 abgeschlossen sein. Der Vorsitzende der palästinensischen Autorität, Yassir Arafat, hat für die palästinensische Seite erklärt, im September 2000 einen eigenen Staat proklamieren zu wollen. Auf israelischer Seite hat Ministerpräsident Ehud Barak für das Jahr 2000 außer dem Rückzug israelischer Truppen aus der Besatzungszone im Südlibanon ein endgültiges Abkommen mit den Palästinensern, ein Referendum in Israel über die Rückgabe der seit 1967 besetzten Golan-Höhen an Syrien und ein Friedensabkommen mit Syrien angekündigt. Mittlerweile scheint es allerdings, als ob die divergierenden nationalen Interessen sowie der innenpolitische Druck auf die jeweiligen Führungen
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die Hoffnung auf eine schnelle Verwirklichung eines Friedens im Nahen Osten schrittweise vernichten würden.
Aber ich möchte der Diskussion nicht vorgreifen, sondern lediglich den schleichenden Pessimismus skizzieren, auf den wir im Zusammenhang mit dem Nahost-Friedensprozess in zunehmendem Maße stoßen.
Meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren, wie können wir als Deutsche respektive Europäer dazu beitragen, dass der Friedensprozess bzw. die Verhandlungen zwischen den Israelis und Palästinensern erfolgreich vorangebracht und schließlich auch umgesetzt werden können? Sicherlich liegt unser Hauptbeitrag darin, auf verschiedenen Ebenen als Vermittler und Moderatoren immer wieder einen Dialog der Konfliktparteien zu ermöglichen. Andererseits muss es unser Anliegen sein, zur Umsetzung nachhaltiger Strategien zur Konfliktprävention beizutragen.
Wir als Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung bemühen uns um diese Unterstützung durch verschiedene Projektmaßnahmen, die unsere Büros in der Region durchführen, aber auch dadurch, dass die deutsche Öffentlichkeit in diesen Prozess einbezogen wird.
In der Hoffnung, dass unsere heutige Podiumsdiskussion ein kleiner Beitrag zur Fortführung des Dialogs zu einem anhaltenden Frieden im Nahen Osten sein möge, wünsche ich uns allen eine spannende Diskussion und bitte jetzt Frau Professor Dr. Krämer, ihr Amt als Moderatorin zu übernehmen.
Prof. Dr. Gudrun Krämer
Peace in the Middle East can it be transformed into reality? Will hope become reality? This is the title of tonights discussion and this is the issue that the panellists will hopefully address in their individual contributions to the debate. As everyone knows, it is a vital question for everyone living in the Middle East and of crucial importance for people living outside of it. We are dealing with a protracted conflict that involves a
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host of issues, peace and hope, the future and the past, identity and a good life, good governance and many other concerns.
It is obviously not easy to be brief on such a vital and crucial issue and yet brevity is exactly what I will have to ask from our panellists fully knowing how hard it will be for them to limit themselves to 5 to 10 minutes, making an introductory statement rather than giving a report on the state of the art of the past, present and future of peace in the Middle East. We have what you can safely call a panel of distinguished speakers, all of them with a long and varied experience in political life, and in negotiations more specifically, some also in academic life, who are fully qualified to speak out on the issue and to stimulate a debate among themselves as well as among the German audience present in this room.
Even on a panel like this and in spite of the fact that the Middle East is said to be a turbulent zone of world politics, there has to be some order in the sequence of speakers and this order is not easy to establish. We suggested to the speakers that they speak in the following order: Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Colette Avital and its not ladies first, its sheer coincidence , Yasser Abed Rabbo, Dr. Efraim Sneh, Gernot Erler.
On the panel and again this is not based on protocol and rank but just on sheer seating order we have Yasser Abed Rabbo, Minister of Information and Culture of the Palestinian National Authority, a leading member of the PLO Executive Council and of course one of the foremost representatives of the Palestinian people in various negotiations between the Palestinians on one hand and the Israelis on the other.
Next to him is Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, who I think will be equally known to most people in this audience: a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, a former Minister of Higher Education, who represented the Palestinian people in various official and unofficial capacities, as well as one of the foremost advocates of Palestinian civil society.
To my right we have Dr. Efraim Sneh, Deputy Minister of Defence of
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the State of Israel and one of the most prominent members of the Israel Labour Party and a very experienced politician and activist.
Next to him is Mrs. Colette Avital, who after a career in the diplomatic service, moved into politics. She is a member of Knesset as well and Chair of the International Department of the Israel Labour Party.
Last but not least we have Gernot Erler, a Member of the Deutsche Bundestag and indeed Deputy Head of the Social Democratic Group in the German Parliament (Stellvertretender Vorsitzender der SPD-Fraktion), who within the Social Democratic Party is in charge of international affairs.
So this is an impressive round of people and if I may once again urge you to be brief and clear and stimulating so that we can have a discussion after the first round of presentations from the speakers and then give the floor to the audience. I will ask people to please briefly introduce themselves, with their names and if they like their affiliation, and to move to the microphones. The other request I will make, and I will not be beseeching anyone, is to be brief and ask questions and not to make lengthy statements.
So, in spite of the fact that Hanan Ashrawi asked not to always be the first speaker, I would ask her to take up this role again and speak to us for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi
Thank you Professor Krämer and thank you to the Friedrich Ebert Foundation for this invitation. Now that I have been volunteered to be first, I take the liberty to use the time, which ever way I see fit. I can tell you that a very quick answer is available for the question that weve been asked. I dont know whether it is shall peace be a reality; will hope be a reality or can hope become a reality? I think the answer is very simple. Hope is an existential state, its a state of mind and reality is, of course,
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concrete conditions on the ground. So the gap between hope and reality is always a gap that is qualitative. Two spheres of existence, sometimes entirely unrelated, but given the fact that weve been asked this question, yes, but not by default. Hope becomes a reality when you have the will, the mind set, the work plan, the commitment, the clear objectives, the road map to translate this existential state into a concrete state; a state of being.
And if you want to relate this to the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, I can say that weve been losing more and more hope gradually, and theres been more erosion of support and confidence in the peace process on the Palestinian side as a result of a perpetual state of crises, one after the other. And I dont think Ive seen the Palestinian people in such a state of collective grievance or a sense of victimisation and quite often a sense of lack of hope, or lets say a lack of unrealistic expectations of the peace process, given the way the peace process has been conducted and its impact on Palestinian lives. Ive always said Palestinians have always been victims of conflict and war and now they see themselves as victims of a peace process, of a process itself that has intruded in their lives and in many ways violated their rights and created this junction between the image and reality, between peoples perceptions of whats going on and between the actual reality on the ground.
There are three ways in which people in Palestine measure the peace process and intentions of the Israeli side. The first is through concrete actions. So long as there are collective punitive measures; so long as there is a state of closure; so long as there are house demolitions; confiscation of IDs but more importantly the building of settlements; the expansion of settlements; the confiscation of land and so on. So long as people feel that this peace process is an abstraction with no relationship to reality, and no relationship to behavioural patterns on the ground, and that Israelis are still conducting themselves as occupiers rather than peace partners, with the mentality of control and of collective punitive measures. After all, we said this afternoon, that mentality of the occupier is not very easy to shed because it generates patterns of behaviour and feelings of power and perhaps even of superiority that are not easily
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abandoned. This is one thing that we see on the ground. So the Palestinians feel that this process has not protected their land, their rights, their lives, has not given them freedom of movement, has not given them economic well-being; on the contrary, economic conditions have been worse, deprivation is prevailing and thats why we have this one gauge. On this one level the peace process has been a failure in the perception of the Palestinians.
Again in terms of the second factor is the implementation of signed agreements. There have been many signed agreements. And they are not even agreements. We have invented many words; we sign protocols, we sign declarations of principles, we sign memoranda, we sign declarations, weve exhausted the language for terms we sign, but not a single agreement has ever been implemented fully, honestly or on time. Not a single timetable has been honoured. And all agreements were subject to renegotiation, were re-opened and subject to modification and of course non-implementation in full. This has contributed to erosion of confidence and support. If you sign an agreement it should be honoured. If you are involved in a peace process and you commit yourself then you undertake to fulfil your commitments and obligations.
I have also described elsewhere, those of you who have read some of the things that I have written, I said we invented a whole new peace process: sign first and negotiate later. Which is what happened with all the agreements. Not a single one, I mean if I want to give you a whole list of them starting with the DOP and moving through with the Paris Declaration the Paris Agreement, the Economic Agreement, the Cairo Agreement, the Gaza-Jericho Agreement, the Taba Interim Agreement and then the Protocol on Hebron and then the Wye River Memorandum and then Wye 2 and Sharm El-Sheikh and so on. We have a series of agreements, each of them a renegotiation of the previous agreement and a modification of previous agreements. And so far agreements have not been honoured, particularly when it comes to issues of redeployment, anything that has to do with relinquishing the land and giving it back to the Palestinians, which is one major component of Palestinian reality and the credibility of the peace process, and the other is the human factor, the
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non-release of Palestinian prisoners. These two have seriously led to doubts questioning and undermining the peace process.
The third factor, along with not-honouring agreements, is the fact that many bilateral actions have been taking place by Israel to pre-empt or pre-judge the outcome of permanent status of negotiations. We talked about settlements but also about Jerusalem. All sorts of actions are taking place by Israel to change and alter the character of Jerusalem; to change its composition demographically and geographically and in terms of its status within Palestinian reality. So its been undermined from within and isolated as a Palestinian city and as the potential future capital of Palestine.
And all issues on the Permanent Status Agenda are issues that should be negotiated. They cannot be pre-determined by one side, otherwise theres no need to agree on an agenda. And on the agenda, of course, you have settlements and boundaries, you have water, you have Jerusalem and you have the refugees. So when we got to that third point, the Israeli strategy and positions with the permanent and status issues, we immediately were faced with a brick wall of absolutist ideology that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel for ever and ever, Amen, and that it will not be divided. Not that we are asking for it to be divided, we want the Jerusalem that was occupied in 1967 to be returned and then we will negotiate the status of the whole city of Jerusalem, East and West.
When it comes to boundaries 2:4 talks about 1967 boundaries, which states the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war, and we are told now in no uncertain terms that there can be no return to the 1967 boundaries I am an academic also and my time frame is 50 minutes per lecture, I will try to be brief thats why its so misleading to just give you in a capsule headlines", we should be able to talk for hours about these things and we should deal with them and what the solution is.
Now when it comes to the third element, we said actions on the ground, policies and measures. We said implementation of signed agreements and now were talking about how to deal with permanent status issues
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and policy positions with permanent status issues. So if you are told that Jerusalem is the eternal capital and indivisible and so, 67 boundaries do not apply to our negotiations, the settlers will continue to be under Israeli sovereignty and some settlements will be annexed to Israel or we will have a situation of extraterritoriality, and the Israelis will have to make all sorts of arrangements to protect the security of the settlers and the mobility of the settlers linking them to Israel, etc. And when it comes to borders and crossing points and all issues, if there is such a unilateral position by Israel that is absolute, why negotiate?
The problem is that we have made a historical shift, we have made a real commitment to the negotiated settlement of this conflict. Unfortunately, instead of rising to the level of this commitment, of this transformation of mentalities and mind-sets we ended up with a peace process incorporating the mentality of power politics, the mentality of the occupation in the sense that the Israelis can dictate to the other side, and that Palestinian realities can be shaped on the basis of the power disequilibrium in a way that would undermine, negate, and violate international law, international legality and the terms of reference of the peace process.
So, for example, the refugees, the right of return. This is not a right which we invented. It is not exclusive to Palestinians. It is a right that is recognised by international humanitarian law applicable to all peoples. And I dont see why, when it comes to the Palestinians, we have to abandon that right or modify it. We were told all afternoon about how realistic and pragmatic we must be. Realism and pragmatism do not mean self-negation.
One last conclusion: the Palestinian State is not a concession from the Israelis. It is our right. And it should be as a minimum on the territories occupied in 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital. We accept that, that to us is a major shift in mentalities. It cannot be a state within a state, within Israel, it cannot be a state-let or a mini-state or a quasi-state or a pseudo-state or a fragmented-state or a series of reservations. If it is to be viable, if were going to have genuine peace and a comprehensive peace then the Palestinian State is an essential component of the future realities of
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the region, a state that is viable, that is sovereign, that is not an adjunct or an appendix to Israel, that is capable of being an equal player in the region as a democratic and contemporary state, that is not constantly trying to re-define Israeli occupation, and that is not surrounded by Israeli power and entirely dependent on Israel.
Absent that state, then I personally dont believe that anybody is doing us a favour by granting us such a pseudo-state with internal fragmentation, with no territorial continuity and no real sovereignty. That is a recipe for future conflict or disaster. All historical conflicts should address the causes, should have the courage to open up all files and to undertake a real shift and mind set in the sense that the politics of inclusion is not the politics where one side is right and the other is wrong, or one side is strong and can dictate to the other. Empowerment of the Palestinians, a genuine state, a recognised sovereign state is the essential component for a just and lasting peace in the region. Thank you.
Prof. Dr. Gudrun Krämer
Thank you very much indeed for this brief and clear statement. Madame Avital.
Thank you very much and I think I will begin by saying what Henry VIII told his fifth wife. This will be short". I will try to keep the time and to be short.
To be very honest I was debating with myself whilst listening to Hanan Ashrawi whom I have known for a long time, whether I will answer some of what she said or whether I will make my own presentation. I think I will very quickly use my time first by saying what we want to achieve and I will perhaps have time to answer some of the things which I think need an answer.
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I would like however to start in saying that I join her in her hope/ desire/wish that there should be a sovereign-free Palestinian State which should be an equal actor in the area. I fully share this hope and desire which I believe will become a reality. And I dont think that by saying this Im doing anyone a favour. If anything, I think Im doing my people, the Israelis, also a service by saying it because I think its a moral right and I believe that as long as there will not be peace and equality and justice we will continue to maintain the seeds of conflict. So I do fully share that hope.
I think however that I am more hopeful, I believe much more that this is going to become a reality. I hope or I believe that it is really up to us. I think there has been a will, there has been a road map. We are now reaching the hour of truth and when you reach the hour of truth it is very difficult. Some of the issues which we and Im speaking now of the Israelis address are difficult and I believe that for the Palestinians it must be equally difficult. I can only represent ourselves. When we reach and when we touch the hour of truth we are faced with very difficult choices. We know the end more or less. We know what the contours are going to be. We know what the choices are. But it is very difficult to get there.
Now I will go on by saying that I, in a way, represent or am aligned with the government that has made a very obvious choice, that of peace. Not only is it a government that is committed to peace, but it is a government that has made a choice of its partners in the coalition, has put aside some of the domestic considerations which are very difficult. After all, when Ehud Barak was elected as Prime Minister he was elected over two issues: Firstly, the peace process; secondly, the very deep crisis that the Israeli society was going through: fragmentation, economic problems, social problems. To a large degree he is the subject of a lot of criticism at home for not dealing at all with the domestic agenda and really giving time and energy and being focussed only on the peace process. Those of you who are present here today know that this is a government which is undergoing a very difficult political crisis, and again the choice of partners in our coalition has been those who would help us achieve the peace
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process. However, this is not easy, because the Israeli population also has to face extraordinarily difficult choices.
I will pick up one example. The Palestinians feel as victims of the peace process. I fully understand that because in every single conflict we live in mirror images. Many Israelis feel as victims, the double victims of the peace process, they feel as victims because social issues are neglected. They feel as victims because they feel that they will have to be evacuated maybe from territories and from their homes which they, for better or for worse, believe are theirs. So there is a feeling of being a victim on both sides, especially when you make peace. People are attached on both sides to the land, and the truth is not only objective, the truth is also subjective, and unless we address that, we do not understand.
Now Israelis lives in a democracy, and my second proposition is at that time, at this particular point in our lives this is not necessarily playing in our favour. The more time passes, the more difficult it is to uproot people from their homes. If we would have made peace with the Palestinians thirty years ago, we would not have had the kind of problems that we have today. However, I prefer also to look at the other side of the coin and to say that there has been a real transformation in public opinion in Israel. What seemed to be unthinkable three, four, five years ago: the proposition to speak with the PLO; the proposition to make a territorial compromise; the proposition to accept the Palestinian State is today accepted by 75% of the population. So I think that if you look at this picture and if you take into account that people have undergone a positive transformation as well, that many agreements which have been signed have been fulfilled to the last iota, and I would like to say to the last iota at least by the Israelis, you will understand that we have already travelled a long road.
Now I say my third proposition: time is of essence because the clock is ticking, because this government is a government that I think can deliver peace. I dont think any other government or any other leader in Israel but Ehud Barak can deliver peace. And my personal feeling is one of a sense of urgency, notwithstanding the domestic difficulties that we will
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have to face because I think there is a particular juncture in our time: Ehud Barak as Prime Minister; a coalition that still helps him; and the President in the White House who is interested to push the peace process forward and this is not necessarily bound to repeat itself very often in history. And therefore, I personally (and I can speak only for myself) think that it is very important to face the hour of truth. And if I look at ourselves and at the Palestinians, I look at us as two players with a set of cards in their hands and it looks like we are holding our cards very close to our chest and the question is, whos going to show the deck of cards that he has in his hand first?
So I think, that I know how difficult it is on both sides: I know that peace can become reality, but I know that it is going to be difficult to get there. But I think it takes courage and determination and yes, Im going to repeat the word: realism and pragmatism. We both know that were not going to get everything. We both know we will have to make compromises. We both know that we have as the French say to put water in our wine". We both know that we have to pay a price for peace. I can assure you this government is and will pay a price for peace. But I think that we have to try to adjust hopes to realities, and if the question is: Can hope become a reality?" my answer is: Yes, depending on what your hope is". I think none of us will be able to get 100% of what we desire. And I believe therefore that it is very important at this point of the game that we are both flexible because were getting to the point where we will have to make very important decisions.
And I would like maybe to say two more things, if I have two more minutes. One is that in order to be able to get to the peace that we so much need and that we so much deserve on both sides, and in order to make the kind of concessions that we have to make, we have to look at each other with serenity, with equality. We have to agree not to agree on certain issues, but we also have to try to understand what it is that we mean by peace.
And for me this is important because maybe at this point peace is not an equal notion for the Israelis and the Palestinians. In order to achieve
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peace it is not merely a question of signing agreements and of implementing them, it is a question also of building peace and of building confidence and of building human relationships. Peace is not only a separation, I know that we cannot achieve right now the European model of peace and we have to go first through separation and first through our own sovereignties and only later will we be able to be more generous with each other and think what sovereignty means in todays world of interdependence. But right now I think we also have to have a strategy of how we build the peace.
And last but not least I would like to say that I was hoping to also hear other things from Hanan Ashrawi because honestly you have people here present tonight who know things. There has not been one day of closure in the past year. The demolition of houses which are personally condemned by many of us, too, has been stopped. There has not been, certainly in the last months, any taking away, any confiscation of land. As a matter of fact the Deputy Minister of Defence present here tonight has asked the Prime Ministers permission to take 250 dunums of land in order to build roads and even that was denied. So I think we should try to see also that some of the things which Hanan Ashrawi rightly condemns have been stopped. Im not saying this in order to in any way shape or form self-defence. I am saying this in order to try on the one hand to set the record straight, but also in order to say: let us move forward. We cannot always look backwards. If we look backwards we will continue to hear on each side that were victims, well continue to hear what were missing, what were losing, and we will continue to postpone this agreement. I think the sooner we make this agreement between us, the sooner there will be a Palestinian State, the better off we all are. Thank you.
Prof. Dr. Gudrun Krämer
Thank you very much indeed. We have powerful speakers on this panel and therefore I dont have to make any comments at this point. Let me simply pass the word on to Mr. Abed Rabbo.
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Yasser Abed Rabbo
Thank you very much. I think theres one thing that I might agree frightens me: that these two ladies didnt leave much for us to say.
First of all, because time is limited, let me confine my statement to specific points.
The first point is, this conflict as all other conflicts, cannot be resolved unless both sides respect the terms of reference for the conflict, for the solution of the conflict. Otherwise we will find ourselves in protracted long forms of confrontation that will lead towards more deterioration and more bloodshed, etc etc.
We have the experiences behind us. Israel for a long time tried to make solutions for the conflicts with different Arab countries. And they reached a solution with Egypt on the basis of implementing 2 : 4 : 2. They reached a solution with Jordan on the same basis and they are seeking to make peace with Syria on the basis of 2 : 4 : 2, and they are now measuring the borders to the last inch with Lebanon for implementing 4 : 2 : 5.
Our case is not an exception. The implementation of 2 : 4 : 2 which means ending the occupation of the Palestinian land and territory, and we should not escape from this fact by talking about compromises or concessions on equal basis made by the two sides.
The second issue is that we had agreements. We signed agreements in the past five or six years. The last one was the Sharm El-Sheikh Agreement. And all these agreements claimed that they are based on the terms of reference for the negotiations, and they aim at implementing 2 : 4 : 2. We cannot hope that there will be progress in future negotiations unless we respect what we had agreed upon through very difficult negotiations in the past. Unless we implement what was agreed upon, and Im referring here to the Sharm El-Sheikh Agreement.
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In Sharm El-Sheikh there was an agreement that Israel will implement the third phase of redeployment from the West Bank, which means according to the Oslo Agreement, all the territories except the issues left for the final status and that means: Jerusalem, settlements, and military locations. This was the approach we had adopted in the beginning. We are not starting the process today, we did not start it in Sharm El-Sheikh, and we cannot say tomorrow, let us have a new beginning, let us start from a point which we decide is away from what we had agreed upon in the past.
Until now the Israeli government, the government of Mr. Barak, had tried to cancel the commitments made in Sharm El-Sheikh through different approaches. One of them asking to merge the issues of the Sharm El-Sheikh Agreement, of the Interim Agreement, of the third phase what will we agree upon in the future and implement it.
The third point is, the Palestinian public opinion is looking at this process with diminishing credibility. Because we are talking about peace and at the same time sorry I am living in a region where all these thoughts of peace, that the demolition of houses has stopped, the confiscation of land is no more taking place, and all these nice doings we dont see them, we see a nightmare. And until today theres a continuation of the policy of confiscation of land. Until last month there were houses that are being demolished and the Palestinians look, they compare between this the same time the same day, there are orders, I dont know who is taking the orders, sometimes not the Defence Ministry, sometimes it is the Housing Ministry, sometimes I dont know whos giving these orders, this doesnt concern me, this is not my issue, the same day that the house is demolitioned because a Palestinian had built it, violating the law, the law that does not permit a Palestinian to build any house on his own land. The same day there are housing units that are decided by the Israeli government to be built on Palestinian land in the West Bank, the same day, and the Palestinian compare this to that and say, what kind of peace is this? So, we want to have steps that guarantee really that we have equality, that occupation will end, that the mentality of hegemony will also reach an end.
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The other point I want to refer to is that I was participating in the negotiations and Im still of course involved in supervising the negotiations within the Palestinian leadership. I heard and I still hear about percentages of land. Sometimes it is 80%, sometimes it goes back to 70%, sometimes it moves up to 90% etc.. Im not going to discuss these percentages of land. Im going to discuss just one thing. The concept of the Israeli solution which of course is contradicting the terms of reference, but this concept is based on one thing: the continuation of the hegemony, the control over the Palestinian people, because according to this concept, Israel wants to annex territories under different names and titles. Some of them because they are realities of settlements and these realities are expanding daily. They are not affixed realities by the way. And some under the pretext of security needs and some under some other pretexts. And according to this the Palestinian territory in the West Bank will be divided into three cantons at least, surrounded by Israel from all sides, and cut away from the neighbouring countries. We are cantons inside Israel. Thats the solution, thats the concept which we cannot accept and we will never accept to negotiate it, or to try to improve it, here or there. This whole concept is a concept of hegemony, of the continuation of occupation and Israel should leave this concept, the concept where we will have a solution based on creating a Palestinian independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital, on an equal basis, because this will enable us really to co-exist, co-exist for a long time ahead, and co-exist in order to build new relations between us and with the neighbouring countries in the region.
The moment of truth I agree and I quote this from Mrs. Avital has come and the moment of truth needs courage. And Ill tell you without hesitation we showed the utmost courage. We showed courage by accepting all the agreements that led to the beginning of this process. By accepting the fact which was stated in the Letters of Recognition that were exchanged at the beginning of the Oslo Agreement or when Oslo was signed. And in these Letters we said in clear words that we recognise Israel although we were still under occupation and Israel at that time did not recognise us. We said even more, we said we recognise the right of Israel to exist and Israel did not at that time recognise our right to
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exist within a state, they only recognised the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people.
But we took courageous steps. The courageous steps now are needed on both sides. When I look at the Israeli concept of solution and I listen to statements saying that there should be courage in order to take bitter decisions I think that this is only directed towards the Palestinians to take such decisions and not decisions that should be on equal footing and on an equal basis.
I think we all have difficulties. The Palestinian public opinion gave chances for peace and the Palestinian public opinion is ready to give more chances, but at this moment the proof for the real intentions to make peace lies only and I repeat in implementing what we had agreed upon and lies only in respecting what we will agree upon through a mechanism, an international mechanism for monitoring, supervising the implementation of the agreements that we will sign and this needs the participation of Europe, the participation of the United States and the United Nations. Otherwise we will end with a bitter, not bitter choices or bitter solutions, but a bitter endless conflict. Thank you very much.
Prof. Dr. Gudrun Krämer
Thank you for making a strong argument relatively brief. Thank you very much indeed. Mr. Sneh.
Dr. Efraim Sneh
Good evening. Firstly, I would like to thank the Friedrich Ebert Foundation for the initiative of this evening, which even if it is not ended in full agreement between the parties it will be ended in better understanding of the parties. But I have some doubt about the title Can Peace become Reality?" To the same extent it can be asked Can Despair become Reality?". And this is an inevitable question because the prevailing notion
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is that if there is no agreement very soon there will be confrontation. And confrontation is the ultimate expression of despair. Even Yasser Abed Rabbo mentioned this option of confrontation and I would like to make a very clear statement.
Confrontation is not an option. I am allowing myself to say this because in this confrontation I am not the weaker side. But I think we should avoid it at all costs. I will explain why. If there is confrontation, this would destroy confidence on both sides, in both communities, the Israeli and the Palestinians. In the visibility of Israeli-Palestinian peace a confrontation would stop the negotiation instead of encouraging and stimulating the negotiation. In this case the confrontation is not a trigger for an enhanced negotiation, just the other way. It would stop the negotiation. A confrontation would leave Arafat and actually Arafat and the Palestinian people with a state which is fragmented as you justifiably said on 9% of historic Palestine. The end of this will mean the Palestinian state will be on 9% of historic Palestine. If today the GNP per capita in Gaza Strip and the West Bank is $ 1,300, this state will have even a lower GNP per capita than that. This state would be, and I say it with great concern, this state would be doomed to poverty, and worst of all it will leave the Palestinian people and the Israeli people with a conflict with no limit of time, an endless conflict. Why endless conflict? Because it will be no partner for peace. In the future there will be no partners, neither on our side nor on the Palestinian side.
If this government of ours fails to reach peace with the Palestinians which other government has a chance to do it? No one. This would be the end of Oslo, the end of any hope, and when there is no hope, the leadership, the future leadership will be a leadership which stands out for the lack of hope. It will be a leadership which I will not be more specific, at least I may allow myself to say it, in the Palestinian side it would not be a secular leadership. And on our side I am not so sure whether it will be secular as well. After confrontation those who made the despair and the hatred their banner will win.
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You know I must say something: When I spoke to an Israeli audience I received the same answer. And I would like to ask honestly, in those three years between Rabin, Peres and Barak Has the peace process gained progress or did it go backwards? More settlements, more hatred, so I dont advise anyone to bet or to gamble on the option that the hard line government in Israel will be like Nixon was to China. It worked in the United States, in Israel it worked the other way. So I dont advise anyone to do this gamble.
Since I only have ten minutes and part of it I have already used, I would like to state in the most authorised way: what are the conditions that we try to impose under negotiation? And I will say it one after one and I dont expect any sympathy. Some of these conditions I dont have sympathy for, either, but I know that it is a result of the reality and I have to face reality.
One, that West to the Jordan River there will be no army and no heavy weapons. There will be a military Israeli presence along the Jordan River. The solution in Jerusalem is not by repartition, that we shall share Jerusalem by expanding Jerusalem and not by dividing Jerusalem. And we are sitting here in the most divided capital in history which is Berlin. I dont want a Berlin Wall in the middle of Jerusalem and I dont want a Check Point. We have to share Jerusalem but an extended Jerusalem, not a divided one.
I said very clearly we can share an extended Jerusalem not a divided Jerusalem. We want to keep most of the settlers under Israeli sovereignty. We cannot uproot them and if we wait for a solution in 10 more years, they will be more than 180,000. If we came to the negotiation table before Oslo there were less than 180,000. But this is the situation right now, and it is a condition for the implementation of any future agreement that most of these settlers will be under Israeli sovereignty.
And we cannot accept an influx of refugees to the territory of Israel. If somebody wants to influx or to transfer people from Beit Jamali and back to the Galilee this is something which is not acceptable. And I say
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very clearly these are the Israeli terms. They are not pleasant to anybody maybe but they stand out for a certain reality.
It is not conditions that we want to impose. If we want to implement Israeli-Palestinian agreement we have to keep these terms, otherwise we are speaking in theory. I can say very nice things but it will not be approved by the Israeli people. After hearing those conditions no one will convince me that even in spite of those terms that I stated in the most strictly responsible and authorised way, in these conditions one cannot establish a viable, economically successful Palestinian state with territorial continuity. Not a cluster of enclaves. I dont believe in cluster of enclaves. I fully understand, maybe more than many others, that the territorial continuity is essential for the viability of the Palestinian state. I fully understand the need for free access or free passage between the Palestinian state and other Arab countries.
The Palestinian national dream is having a state which can be a homeland for the Palestinian people with an economy which can be developed, which can be the fastest growing economy in the Arab world, which will give hope and jobs to a new generation of young Palestinian intellectuals, that will be integrated not on a colonial basis but which will be connected economically with Israel and with Jordan to maximise the synergy between our people. I believe that it is feasible.
And since it is feasible we have to do it quickly. We have to give up many, many dreams in both states. But it is high time. Thats my message. We can do it, I am sure. I am very familiar with the problems, everything is solvable and, believe me, in five years we will only regret why we didnt do it earlier and this is my message.
Prof. Dr. Gudrun Krämer
Thank you very much indeed for another clear and strong message. We move to the last speaker in this first round. And may I just remind you
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that we will have another round among the panellists and then move on to the general discussion. So its now on Mr. Erler to speak to us.
Thank you, Madame Chairperson. Ladies and Gentlemen, Ill try to be a bit shorter and that is no risk for you, because I am not from the region and I am not a specialist in Middle East affairs, even not after a couple of visits to the region. The last one ended two weeks ago by the way in a splendid way organised by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and I am grateful for this.
I must confess that after my last visit including a tour throughout the country, the Golan Heights, the Israeli-Lebanese border, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, I came back with more questions than answers. The problem is only that the current search for peace in the region does not demand questions but answers. The bridge or the transfer between hope and reality in my view needs some conditions or pre-conditions. Im not sure after that what I have seen that all the conditions we need are really existing just now.
That brings me to my first point. Let me begin with a short look at the current Israeli position. I think a stable government and the clear position for the negotiations are important pre-conditions for successful peace talks. Unfortunately, in the last few weeks we got the impression that the Barak government lost part of their stability inside the coalition. It started with trouble regarding the Shas party and now the National Religious Party threatens with abandoning the partnership inside the coalition, related to the government position with regards to the settlement problem.
That means now domestic problems inside the coalition, partly egoistic partisan objectives of different coalition partners were mixed up with the negotiating position of the government. I think that is the threat. Thats by the way not an Israeli speciality, we know that from other democratic
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societies, there is a mixture of domestic and coalition problems and objective political positions. But in this case, in this moment, the impact of the coalition problems on the peace process is in my view a very questionable one.
But in addition to that obviously we have also different positions inside the government itself. Prime Minister Ehud Barak just now works in favour of a trilateral peace summit, sort of second Camp David and calls the summit the only way towards a lasting peace treaty. Foreign Minister David Levy told the public, in the last days, that he finds it too early for a summit and that he denies the whole idea. It is not surprising that under these circumstances, Madeleine Albrights visit to Israel this week could not become a success.
I would like to ask our guests from Israel a question in that context. Is there a chance to improve the stability and workability of the Barak government to stay a reliable partner in the peace process that is sponsored and protected and sustained by the United States?
In my view that is the crucial point for the chances of the peace talks and that is the question to the panel for the transfer from hope to reality.
My second point is settlement policy. I totally understand that there must be security for the existing settlers, for their families, for the future of their families. I think without that there could not be a peace process, a real lasting peace settlement. But I got the impression from my visit that there is evidence for the continuation of the settlement policy of the former government. I was surprised about this. I expected a different impression after all that I have heard here in Germany about the policy of Barak. But after what I have seen and what we have seen over there in the region, it is evident that there is a great part of continuation with the settlement policy. I have not the right to speak about confiscation of land or of occupation policy but what I feel is continuity.
But that is of course again the resource for a question. I do not understand the strategy behind. What is the strategy in the deciding phase of a
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peace process? To enlarge the problem? I do not speak about solving the problems that exist. But why enlarge the problem? In my view that is not understandable.
I must say that is not only my personal approach. I remember a solution of the European Council held in Berlin in March last year on the Middle East peace process. There was a chapter that the European Council appealed to both of the parties to refrain from any actions anticipating results of the peace process (and there was directly in the language) including continuation of the settlement activities. That is the chapter from the European Council conclusion on Middle East policy of the last year. So I think that is also the European approach to this issue.
My last point is connected with the Palestinian position. I find that the negotiating position of the Palestinian side is more or less clear regarding the boundaries, regarding the refugee problem, regarding more or less also about the status of East Jerusalem. Those are the most important positions. But I wonder what is the role, the proclamation of the Palestinian state will and can play in the peace process. There is in my view a lack of transparency and liability of the Palestinian position.
I got different information about the decision making process within the Palestinian side, whether they will anyway proclaim statehood on September 13, maybe without a treaty, maybe without a result of peace talks, or maybe later. I think again speaking about pre-conditions of chances, and that means speaking about the bridge between hope and reality and that we need transparency, also in this case it is expected from the Palestinian side.
I am not happy that I have more questions than answers, so let me conclude with only one statement. I think that Efraim is right when he said confrontation is not an option. I think that is a good basis for a very broad consensus between us. The European and the German approach is: we want to help. If we can we want to assist the peace process. We feel committed to do that. But at first we have to understand the situation. I
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think that is not so easy. Maybe our guests can contribute to that a bit more. Thank you.
Prof. Dr. Gudrun Krämer
This was the first round. We have all realised that we have a very special selection of speakers on this panel: They are all committed to peace. They have all shown it in the past. They are showing it in the present. They are all courageous, etc.. They share some basic assumptions about the present state of affairs and the way things could move in the future.
One remarkable point of agreement is that they all stand for or support the idea of the establishment of a Palestinian state. They all share the sense (and it is difficult not to have this sense), that this is a matter of great urgency, that you cannot afford to wait and that things might get worse rather than better if you delay decisions and if you do not face up to some very bitter truths. There are deadlines everyone knows about and there are developments on the ground that account for this sense of urgency.
You have all addressed a number of underlying issues that nonetheless make it very difficult to move ahead: You have spoken of the lack of trust, of the sense that the participants in the process were not really looking directly into each others eyes, that they were not treated as equal partners in the process, that some felt they were not given proper respect. You have spoken of a number of concrete issues that have to be faced and they were spelt out with admirable clarity by Mr. Sneh: the issue of the settlers, of territory, of refugees, of military presence, and, last not least, the question of Jerusalem.
If I may just invite you to avoid one thing in the second round, namely to correct each other on minor points, and to focus on the issues which you think should be addressed in the present situation and possibly even suggest a way of doing it. For instance, this idea of sharing an expanded Jerusalem: What would that mean to both, Israelis and Palestinians?
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Obviously I dont want to impose one issue, but it might be useful to just take one or two subjects rather than going off in all directions.
We are all trying to be fair and to apply equity and justice as far as this is possible. Could I suggest a reversal of the speaking order as compared to the first round?
[Voice from panel: Wonderful, everyone will have to stay to the last.]
I am sure no one would dare or even wish to leave before. They will be kept spellbound.
If you accept my suggestion, Efraim Sneh will be the first to speak in the second round.
Dr. Efraim Sneh
First, just to resolve the dispute between the two ladies, I have to carry on myself the responsibility that I officially have. Its true I know what our policy is because Im in charge of it. There is, in this present stage of the negotiations, there is no confiscation of land. And even if I agreed to something the Prime Minister does not allow me. We dont accept anything which lies in the territory of Jerusalem municipality and this is not in the jurisdiction of the Minister of Defence. There is no demolition of houses.
What do you think about Walijeh? Its inside Jerusalem, its not in the territory of the West Bank. But here its a different story. I dont argue with you about Walijeh. So if you think about all the data that Ambassador Avital said, it comes from me because I am in charge of it.
This leads me to refer to the remark of our friend Gernot Erler. I dont know what you have seen because maybe what people show you are buildings that were started in the time of the previous government and these are just now incomplete because we dont touch them. If somebody
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signed a contract, paid money and an apartment is waiting for him, we do not stop it. Now if you ask about the beginning of new settlements there is a very clear policy. We do not expand any settlement. If I, and I cant relate the responsibility to anyone else, because I am in charge. I am responsible. I am in a permanent fight with the settlers. I speak to them very very clearly, and they dont like it. In the time of the negotiations, we will not change the map. And it is strictly forbidden to expand or even to start planning expansion of settlements because we consider it something which is against the spirit of the negotiations.
There are very few exceptions and I will explain exactly one. If in the middle of the territory of the built up area there is a plot, a piece of land which is empty, and there are all the licences, it is approved but nothing which expands the volume of a certain settlement, then we allow building. This is the policy regarding settlements. And the fact is that I am accused by the settlers, by the right wing, that we are worse than the British Mandate, we hate the Jews, and so on. This is the policy and I am personally responsible for this. Nothing can be done without my signature.
Now I will go to the real things. You asked a question: What can be done to strengthen the government? Is the government stable enough? We took measures that cost us a very high political price. That we kept Shas which is an ultra-orthodox party inside the government and Meretz which is our closest ally left the government but remained in the coalition and our voters are vehemently angry at us, really angry at us. But we did it only for one purpose: to secure a parliamentary majority for the Palestinian agreement. There is no other reason. Its against our domestic agenda. We want a progressive, secular Israel. And for this Meretz is the parting lodger. Even the Likud is a more convenient partner than Shas if it comes to an enlightened modern state. But we paid this price and it may cost us votes in the future. And we did it only to give a reasonable broad basis for the future agreement with the Palestinians. There is for us no other reason whatsoever to do it.
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But what I am concerned about is not only the majority in the parliament, in the Knesset. We promised to take the agreement with the Palestinians after it is drafted and to get it approved in a referendum. I am concerned to have a majority in the people, not a majority in the Knesset, I hope that I secured my majority in the Knesset. But now I help to build a broad majority and listen, it is an agreement which brings the building, the establishment of the Palestinian state, of sharing the territory of the land that we called Israel and the Palestinians called Filistin, to share it, to a Two State Solution. This is something which we are going to bring to referendum. No one can call it in any other consideration now.
Do I have a chance? And here I said earlier, if I bring an agreement which doesnt divide Jerusalem, which doesnt uproot 180,000 Israelis from their homes and does not set the defence border of Israel 15 kilometres from the Mediterranean, if this is the case I tell you I have a clear majority and I can do it because I will gain the majority of Israel, even the majority of the Jews. If I dont do it I have no chance, and this is a decision that we face. I am fully convinced in the terms that I told you, we can have this agreement approved and with a very nice majority. If we take something from it, I am not so sure. And this is the decision that we have to accept.
Yasser Abed Rabbo
Of course, in this meeting we are not going to negotiate all the issues that are on the agenda. But let me refer to something. I dont know when we are speaking about settlements, if we are talking about two different things. What we see on the ground is a process of continuation of the settlement policy without any change compared to the policy of the previous Israeli government. This is what we see on the ground. The Palestinian peasants are faced in their villages with settlers who confiscate land, including Palestinian privately owned land and the settlers themselves, under the protection of the Israeli army, they move the fence to include more Palestinian land and territory.
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On this occasion I take the opportunity to ask maybe, and Im saying it seriously, to ask my friend Efraim Sneh, that when we are going back tomorrow, well go next week on a tour. Its not a continent, its not Australia, it needs one day, one hour to look and see near my house, Arumala, I watch a city which is being newly built called Keriatsava, and I watch the infrastructure of a new city, a new settlement. I have many examples. The last example which I read in the Israeli newspapers, that Mr. Yitzhak Levy, the Minister of Housing, had issued a tender a few days ago to build a new settlement with 400 housing units. This was only the day before yesterday. And there are other examples about this.
But anyway the people are witnessing the fact that the policy is continuing inside Jerusalem, outside Jerusalem, around Jerusalem and in all Palestinian territories. This is one point.
The second point is that we will declare the establishment of a Palestinian state. And we cannot do it on a symbolic basis, just a symbolic declaration. Its impossible to do that, and by the way we did this symbolic declaration over 12 years ago in Algeria. Now this should be implemented on the ground. It should be a fact. And we wish that this will be the result of Israeli withdrawal, so that the Palestinian state will be the outcome of declaring sovereignty of the Palestinian authority on the ground and establishing a state. We cannot say it should be the outcome of the negotiations.
And let me differentiate between the two things. Because we will never accept to make our right in self-determination questionable and an issue of negotiations. What is under negotiations is the implementation of 2 : 4 : 2 and not our right to self-determination and to creating a Palestinian state. So for this reason we said that the time limit for this is the 13th of September.
I listen to the Israeli conditions and positions which Mr. Sneh has repeated today. For me, for all the Palestinians, all the Arabs, all the Islamic world, all the Christian world, Jerusalem is Jerusalem. I cannot expand Jerusalem and include some villages here or there and then share
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it, divide it by the way, lets not hide ourselves behind words. In all the pole positions theres a kind of a division of Jerusalem. And who says that Jerusalem is not divided by the way? We want the solution that will unite Jerusalem, that will make it a real open city. But this solution cannot be reached if one part of Jerusalem does not recognise the right of the other part on an equal basis. If one part of Jerusalem will want to annex the other part and to tell us, well, compose a new capital for yourself and call it Jerusalem in the outskirts of present Jerusalem. For these solutions I sometimes forgive me to be frank admire the Israeli imagination, sometimes, but in this case I dont admire it. Because such complicated issues cannot be resolved in naming regions and villages, giving them another name, it is impossible.
I cannot look its a bad example at somebody and say well if I call her Brooke Shields she will look prettier, this is impossible. So this is not the case. Jerusalem is Jerusalem. Lets face the facts. We dont want a division of the city. We want to create a unity of the city but on a real basis, on the basis that the Palestinians will have their right in this city as a part of the Palestinian territory that was occupied in 1967.
I listen sometimes to the expression used separation". There are different terminologies that are used here. Sometimes we speak about separation. Sometimes we speak about a united city, an open one. Sometimes we speak about division or sharing or whatever. We dont want this formula of separation if it means to build a wall between the two sides. We want open borders. We want open relations. We want to have really the kind of relations that we can develop in the future.
But these relations cannot be built unless we solve something today. We solve the basic issues. When I listen to the 4 or 5 nos to Jerusalem. Take any part and call it Jerusalem, whatever you like. No to the refugees, no to the settlements, in fact no to any solution for the settlements because the majority of the settlements will be dealt with as settlement blocks. The Palestinians will have no borders, except with Israel and may be they will have access or a road, or whatever it is, to the outside world. This is not a solution that can live. This is a solution which is against
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international legality, against the facts on the ground and the solution will carry in itself the seeds of continuing confrontation.
Confrontation is not my choice. Confrontation is the choice of a bad solution or a non-solution that is imposed on us. Confrontation was never our choice. We wanted to reach a solution but at the same time theres a wide-spread attitude among the Palestinians, and I want to say it clearly today. This attitude is based on, and I will say it in blunt words, it is based on the fact that Israel which had refused to accept 4 : 2 : 5 for over 20 years, had accepted 4 : 2 : 5 through the Lebanese language. So let us use the Lebanese language in the negotiations with Israel. This is an attitude which is spreading among the Palestinians and among the region.
Why? Because theres a feeling that there is a strong side and there is a weak side. And the strong side wants to impose its conditions onto the weak side. With these conditions that Mr. Sneh has repeated, I know this, what are the bitter compromises that you made in any of these conditions? You kept the settlements, all of them, the majority of them, 80% of them. You kept them, you kept the borders, you kept Jerusalem under your control, you kept everything that you want, you kept the facts on the ground. Where is the bitter compromise you reached? And you kept the refugees outside. In this case, I know we are not going to negotiate today, but this is not even a starting point. Thank you very much.
Prof. Dr. Gudrun Krämer
It is a thankless task to cut people short who have important things to say and the issue is as I said vital and not an object of academic debate. I am fully aware of that and yet, if youre going to allow the audience to have something to say as well, rather than just sit and listen for two hours and more I have to impose the rule of time and the sense of urgency even in this formal matter.
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I would like to look at the audience and try to figure out what the audience leaves this place with. Are they leaving with a confused mind about, whats going to happen? Are they going to leave, desperate about what is going to happen? And I would like to say to you two things.
First, I think that in the whole history of the State of Israel we did not have to face the kind of decisions that were taking now. I think that the decision which Ehud Barak is called to take by the 13th September is equal in its weight on our lives in Israel and in the whole region as that of Ben Gurion when he established the State of Israel. I think maybe one does not understand and appreciate the weight of that decision and I think therefore it requires courage. And when I said that it requires courage I did not mean only on the Palestinian side. I am speaking only for the Israeli side. It requires courage because the Israeli population is a population that also feels that it has a certain experience because the conflict is a very highly emotional one. Our conflict with the Palestinians and therefore the solutions cannot be compared to those we have had in the past with the Egyptians or with the Jordanians. Our attachment to the land is not equal to that because we never had a real attachment to the land of Egypt, to the Sinai.
I think one has to realise, that this kind of a conflict was a highly emotional one because it was existential, and when its existential, it is action and reaction and action and reaction, and there have been traumas.
And when I listen to some of my colleagues getting up and making fiery speeches in the Knesset, about giving up Abu Dis as if Abu Dis was part of our heritage, believe me its not an easy thing.
Now, the Ehud Barak government decided to give up three Arab villages, to pass them on to the Palestinian Authority very soon. Abu Dis was one of them, and the government almost fall on that issue, even though the decision had already been taken in 1995. When we managed to pass that through the parliament, and, yes, with the help of Shas by the way (and let me tell you if we had had in the government we
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could not have taken such a decision. So this is my only answer about the stability of the government). Soon as we passed that decision one day afterwards there was an outburst of hostilities and of violence in the territories.
And the Israeli public with usual emotion and stereotypes said, and maybe rightly so, Aha, you see, you see what youre doing? Youre endangering us." Youre putting us to the test and this is what were getting back. Why? Because it is very easy for any public that has gone through traumas to go back to stereotypes and say Aha you see we cannot trust them".
I am only mentioning this because it is very easy to fall into despair, and to say there is despair. There is also despair on the Israeli side. And our role as leaders is to try and overcome that despair and to move onwards and to try to build other images. And its not going to be easy for anyone.
And believe me, you will see demonstrations in Israel and you will see ugly pictures painted of Ehud Barak with the Kuffiyek. And you will see many right wingers saying to Ehud Barak You are a traitor". And we will have to overcome that.
Decisions are not going to be easy for us and because many people in Israel feel that we are abiding by agreements and that we do not get an equal response from the other side. This is part of the public opinion that we live with.
And there are ministers in the government of Israel who would like to leave the government because they feel that we should not give up Abu Dis now, since we do not get anything in return from the Palestinians. This is the situation under which we live and Im saying this because we have to take into account, the government must survive if we want to reach an agreement: we have to be fair on the one hand and to go step by step, taking sometimes resolutions which are not very popular.
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I think that despair is not a strategy. I choose hope as a strategy and I would like not to expand on that but I would like everyone here to think that if hope is a strategy, then it means that we act from a point of view that things are doable, that things are possible, that we may make one more effort and one more effort. And I know that the bridges are not easy to cross and we have done difficult things before.
And let me just mention one of them. I have listened very carefully to what Yasser Abed Rabbo had to say about Lebanon. And I would like people to understand and maybe many of you understand this already we have not left Lebanon because of weakness. It took courage to decide to pick up and go without any counterpart, and it is very easy now for people to say the Israelis have been defeated. We have left Lebanon because we have decided that, because we said one year ago we were going to do it, with or without an agreement. And let me just explain that what has happened in Lebanon is not the kind of model that is going to happen between us and the Palestinians. And I hope that I have misunderstood the statement of Mr. Abed Rabbo, I hope that the idea of using Lebanon as a model and the language of threat as a model is not going to be the kind of relationship that we are trying to build. Thank you.
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi
It is not often that I find myself almost speechless, Im almost speechless but not entirely, I am overwhelmed.
Well, first of all, I would just like to point out that when people talk about both sides making difficult decisions, we have to remember that both sides do not enjoy equal power. We do not occupy Israeli land, we do not hold Israeli prisoners, we have not confiscated any of your land nor have we demolished homes. And I would also like on this occasion to invite both Colette and Efraim to come and visit the people whose lands have been confiscated, whose homes have been demolished. So you can tell them that this is a fiction, this is a figment of their own imagination.
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Because also last month we had a meeting in Gaza and most of the people couldnt go because there was the closure. And not only that but I think you should tell all the people of Gaza and the West Bank why they cannot go to Jerusalem which is Palestinian because there are check points that tell you if you dont have a blue ID you cannot get through to Jerusalem. So I think, yes, I agree we should be very honest in our presentation of realities and truths.
Secondly, I find a new language. I know Colette has always been very warm and gentle in her presentation and I appreciate this warmth and gentleness. But there is a new diction about uprooting people from their homes, uprooting Jews from their homes, uprooting Israelis from their homes. I dont consider the settlers who live next to my house, people who are in their homes, they are in my home. And they are there illegally and they would not be there except for the power of occupation and land confiscation.
I would like the same sympathy for the Palestinians who were uprooted from their ancestral homes not from Brookland, people are from Brookland, they speak American, they dont speak Hebrew Palestinians who have lived for thousands of years in Palestine. Now were telling them they have no right to return, a right that all refugees in the world have, except for Palestinians. While Israel can legislate a law of return. Now if there is enough room for any Jew in the world to come to Israel, I dont see why there is no room for the original people of the land to go to their homes. After all, Israel was recognised on the basis of its acceptance, was admitted to the UN on the basis of its acceptance of Resolution 194, not just 181.
Now to remind you of the lack of symmetry: The Two State Solution. Of course, we are all attached to the land. The Palestinians are attached to their land also, not theoretically, I mean there are land deeds, property, villages, even cactus to tell you about the villages that were destroyed. I dont want to go into that, this attachment to the land has to be translated on both sides by recognition that there are Palestinian rights and that the
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land can be shared and that when the Palestinians accepted the Two State Solution, it was a historical turning point.
And that should be appreciated. But the Two State Solution is not open ended. I still think, I am of those I think within Palestine you are going to see two points of view but I still believe that the Two State Solution is possible, to share the land, thats the only way. However, there are many who believe that its already too late, that if you continue the fragmentation of the West Bank, separation of West Bank and Gaza, control over our borders, building more settlements and bypass roads with extra-territoriality, and, of course, maintaining the settlements and the settlers under Israeli sovereignty, creating an apartheid situation. That already the conditions are too late for a viable Palestinian State and therefore for a Two State Solution.
There are many Palestinians, I am sure you have heard and you have read, who are calling for the bi-national state. And that such a Palestine is non-viable and has no hope for any future as an active democratic player. So I would say that even as the PLO Central Council is ready to meet on Sunday/Monday to discuss this issue, that if Israeli ideology continues to make the Two State Solution not a viable option, then it seems to me Zionism will self negate it because as we discussed this afternoon you cannot take the land without the people and you cant continue to fragment and tear apart the Palestinian land and then say, well, we still have the option of the Two States. Its not going to happen.
And I certainly would repeat, I do not want a quasi-state. I do not want an autonomy to be called a state. We know what states are. And if we want to overcome the whole historical legacy of one nation entirely denied its land, its rights, its future, its right to development, then I think we have to understand that self-determination has to be exercised so we can be engaged in the region as equals and we can make peace. But in the absence of that, of a viable state, non-fragmented, contiguous, with sovereignty, with boundaries then I dont think that there will be peace.
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I am for hope but I dont think you can make peace only with wonderful words and proclamations. Hope is something that is translated into dedicated, concrete, systematic, committed action on the ground. And in so much as I do not presume to tell the Israelis how to run there own lives, or their economy, or to solve their own internal problems, I hope that the Israelis will not tell us how to run our own state or to think that we have the responsibility.
So I just want to end by saying that I also believe there is a third party role. If you dont understand you said, you have to understand, but Im sure you do since youve been there and youve seen whats going on. I believe that its not just a bilateral issue. The Palestinian question has always been an international responsibility, and UN resolutions are resolutions taken by the international community. And I believe peace is a global investment and we are a real test case because this is the most complex situation. I think there is a role for the EU, I think there is a role for Germany. And I think that there is room now to be creative and to look at what went wrong and to intervene in a positive way to rectify it. This is the best way to translate hope into action. Thank you.
Prof. Dr. Gudrun Krämer
Thank you very much indeed. We have had a number of clear and thoughtful statements, and I dont think anyone came to this room expecting clear answers to all the problems that people on the ground and in the world at large are faced with when talking about peace and hope in the Middle East. Of course that always leaves a certain sense of dissatisfaction because some issues have not been addressed. Others have been addressed in a way that did not please everyone. Some issues have been left in the open as some criticism could not be responded to and, last but not least, we have already spent two hours, or more than that.
© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | Januar 2001