Thursday, April 21, 2011

Israeli Intellectuals for Palestinian Independence

Israeli Intellectuals for Palestinian Independence - by Stephen Lendman

Several April 20 Haaretz reports explain efforts for Palestinian independence, including dozens of Israeli intellectuals and public figures endorsing it. On April 21 at 2PM, they'll read a statement in front of Tel Aviv's Independence Hall (where Ben-Gurion) declared Israel's statehood in May 1948) headlined:

"ISRAELI INTELLECTUALS WELCOME AND ENDORSE AN INDEPENDENT PALESTINIAN STATE NEXT TO ISRAEL"

In part, it states:

Israel and Palestine represent the birthplace of both peoples. This declaration expresses "commitment (for a) new state 'to ensure the complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.' (Israel's) founding fathers extend(ed their) hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness..."

"Now is the moment to live up to this promise!"

"We consider the independence of the two states and the unqualified end of the occupation a moral and an existential imperative as well as a necessary condition for a good neighborhood."

"We the undersigned citizens of Israel call upon all our compatriots, all the members of the Knesset, the Government of Israel and the governments and citizens of the world to join us in welcoming and endorsing a newly born (Palestine based on) 1967 borders," agreed to by both sides in 1949.

So doing, including ending the occupation, "will liberate the two peoples and open the way to a lasting peace."

On April 19, Haaretz writer Ilan Lior said endorsers include 17 Israel Prize winners (the state's highest honor, presented annually), as well as others awarded the annual EMET prize (for distinguished academic and professional achievements).

Insisting their effort isn't token, they call it part of a larger process for "a legitimate alternative to Israel's current policies," including conflicts, violence and occupation, a dead-end essential to stop.

Haaretz columnist and endorser Sefi Rachlevsky said:

"Our initiative is not a naive one. Instead of Israel being the first to extend its hand and support Palestinian independence, it is trying to warn us against it. That is not only a moral disaster, but it's also liable to bring about a practical catastrophe in which Israel will isolate itself and turn into a kind of South Africa, (a threshold, in fact, it long ago exceeded)."

"Israel is acting this way out of the delusion that it's possible to continue its colonialist behavior, which is built on anti-democratic racism that contradicts (its own) declaration of independence."

Professor Yehuda Bauer added:

"I am speaking from a Zionist standpoint. Zionism sets as its goal the preservation of a Jewish national home with a solid Jewish majority - this was the dream of people from the left, right and center of classical Zionism. But....occupation guarantees the nullification of Zionism - that is, it rules out the possibility that the Jewish people will live in its land with a strong majority and international recognition. In my eyes, this makes (Israel's) government clearly anti-Zionist."

Bauer said recognizing Palestine within 1967 borders will be the "realization of genuine Jewish nationalism that exists in peace in the region, and within the international community."

Hebrew University Professor Yaron Ezrahi, another signer, said Passover week was chosen, commemorating Jewish liberation, because "(w)e don't want to pass over the Palestinian people. This is a holiday of freedom and independence," what Palestinians and all others deserve.

Another group called the Israeli Peace Initiative, representing dozens of prominent Israelis, issued an early April document endorsing an independent Palestine in nearly the entire West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, with swap agreements not exceeding 7% of the Territories.

Jerusalem's Jewish neighborhoods, the Western Wall, and Old City Jewish Quarter would remain in Israel, Arab ones in Palestine, and the Temple Mount (for Muslims the Noble Sanctuary) would be international.

It also endorses Israeli withdrawal from Golan, establishing new regional security mechanisms and economic cooperation projects, and the right of return (or financial compensation in lieu thereof) for diaspora Palestinians to Palestine, not Israel, with "mutually agreed-upon symbolic exceptions" allowed.

Endorsers include former Mossad head Danny Yatom, saying:

"We looked around at what was happening in neighboring countries and we said to ourselves, 'It is about time that the Israeli public raised its voice as well.' We feel this initiative can bring along many members of the public, (and) want to signal to moderate Palestinians and Syrians that there is a new horizon and light at the end of the tunnel."

Former Shin Bet head, Yaakov Perry, another endorser, added:

"We are isolated internationally and seen to be against peace. I hope this will make a small contribution to pushing our prime minister forward. It is about time that Israel initiates something on peace."

On April 20, Haaretz writers Avi Issacharoff and Danna Harman headlined, "Abbas: Britain and France would recognize Palestinian state," saying:

In September, over 130 General Assembly nations will recognize an independent Palestine within 1967 borders, according to Abbas, adding that the number could reach 140 or 150, including Britain and France.

On April 19, Haaretz Service headlined, "Report: Quartet may formally recognize Palestinian state if peace talks not renewed," saying:

"American and European diplomats warned that if peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are not renewed, the Quartet (including the US, UN, EU and Russia) of Mideast peace makers may formally recognize a Palestinian state."

Both sides agreed to a September 2011 resolution, but talks broke down over settlement expansions. Netanyahu blamed the victims, saying seeking UN General Assembly recognition "pushes peace further back." He's the same man who earlier called peace talks "a waste of time."

On April 20, Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) writer Chana Ya'ar headlined, "PLO: Israel's Peace Plan is 'Re-occupation,' " saying:

PLO officials "had nothing but scorn in response to the idea of Israel formulating a new plan for peace (that) shows it to be little more than a reinvention" of occupation, annexation and control rather than a genuine peace effort, according to senior PLO member Hanan Ashrawi, saying:

"There will be no negotiation without a cessation of all settlement activities, without clear terms of reference in conformity with international law, and without a binding time line."

She added that Quartet recognition of Palestinian sovereignty is no substitute for General Assembly approving it in September, which the PA has vowed to seek.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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