Two peoples, one peace – a JCall colloquium (Rome, May 16, 2016)

JCall Italy organized a colloquium at the Italian Parliament in Rome on “Two peoples ,one peace”.

(To see the video click here)

In the current destructive juncture in the Middle East with the disintegration of states and the surge of Islamist extremism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict runs the risk of being put in the back burner. Europe, moreover, is enmeshed in a number of concurrent crises which make it difficult for concerned public opinion and the political leadership to play an active role in helping resolve the conflict. Thus, it is important to try and decipher what will happen in Israel since given the asymmetry in effective power between the two parties it is crucial to capture what Israel, its public opinion and its government, plan and will do.
The Palestinians made serious mistakes, from suicide terror to the senseless guerrilla war from Gaza, but they are now weakened, split between the West Bank and Gaza. They are not citizens of the state in which they live – be it the West Bank or Gaza where they have not enjoyed the right to vote for the past 10 years – nor do they vote for the institutions of the state – Israel – which in fact controls their daily existence.
On the Israeli side claiming that the status quo is sustainable, the conflict can be managed at “low intensity” rather than resolved and it is better for Israel given the regional and world disorder to manage it and do nothing rather than try and settle the conflict is deceptive as shown by the deadly Gaza war in 2014 and the violence on the streets of Israel and the West Bank in recent months. Moreover beside the diplomatic stalemate there is a deep separation on the human side between the Jewish-Israeli society and the Arab-Palestinian one. Palestinians see Israelis as violent occupiers; Israelis perceive Palestinians as the their quasi metaphysical enemy, which must be subdued by force and is not entitled to the right to an independent state.
The Israeli speakers were Gidon Bromberg and Koby Huberman.
Bromberg, the codirector of Ecopeace Middle east – a Jordanian-Palestinian-Israeli NGO devoted to environmental and water issues in the region which like many other cross-border NGOs is committed to people-to-people work trying to overcome that dehumanizing separation between the two societies – showed how Israel is now endowed with excess supply of water owing to technical progress and could solve the plight of West Bankers and Gazans lacking drinkable water and risking a serious humanitarian and health crisis. Water was one of the five sticking points in the post-Oslo negotiations, beside borders, the settlements, refugees, and Jerusalem, and could be solved in practical, equitable ways, with the support of the world community and obvious benefits for all parties concerned.
Huberman, the cofounder with Yuval Rabin and others of the Israeli Peace Initiative – an association established in 2011 by members of the business sector, academia, the military, the intelligence community – spoke about its activity aimed at the large segment of the Israeli public opinion that belongs to the pragmatic centre, yet is skeptical about the possibility of a peaceful settlement of the conflict. It is that public opinion which should respond to the paralysis and growing international isolation of the government and push it to accept the Arab League offer of peace and normal diplomatic relationships made in 2002 and renewed more recently. A peaceful solution to the conflict should be underpinned by a regional agreement with the neighboring Arab states that should seize the opportunity of the convergence of interests between Israel, the PNA, and Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan in confronting Islamist radicalism on one hand and the threat of Iran on the other.
Giorgio Gomel

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