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< Tikkun July/August 2001 : Features : Israel >
 
80 Theses for a New Peace Camp
A Manifesto From Gush Shalom


1. The peace process has collapsedand taken down with it a large part of the Israeli peace camp.

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2. Transient circumstances, such as personal or party political matters, failures of leadership, political self-interest, domestic and global political developmentsall these are like foam over the waves. Important as they may be, they cannot adequately explain the peace process's total collapse.

3. The true explanation of this collapse can only be found beneath the surface, at the roots of the historical conflict between the two nations.

4. The Madrid-Oslo process failed because the two sides were seeking to achieve conflicting goals.

5. The goals of each of the two sides emanated from their basic national interests. They were shaped by their historical narratives, by their disparate views of the conflict over the last 120 years. The Israeli national historical version and the Palestinian national historical version are entirely contradictory, both in general and in every single detail.

6. The negotiators and the decision-makers on the Israeli side were completely oblivious to the Palestinian national narrative. Even when they sincerely wished to reach a solution, their efforts were doomed to fail because they could not understand the national desires, traumas, fears, and hopes of the Palestinian people. While there is no symmetry between the two sides, the Palestinian attitude was similar.

7. Resolution of such a long historical conflict is possible only if each side is capable of understanding the other's spiritual-national world and willing to approach it as an equal. An insensitive, condescending, and overbearing attitude precludes any possibility of a mutually-agreed-upon solution.

8. The Barak government, which had inspired so much hope, was afflicted with all these attitudes; hence, the enormous gap between its initial promise and its disastrous results.

9. A significant part of the old peace camp (also called the "Zionist Left" or the "Sane Constituency") is similarly afflicted by these attitudes and therefore collapsed along with the government it supported.

10. The primary role of a new Israeli peace camp is to get rid of the false myths and the one-sided view of the conflict. This does not mean that the Israeli narrative should automatically be rejected and the Palestinian narrative unquestionably accepted. But it does require open-minded listening and understanding of the other side's position in the historical conflict, in order to bridge the two national narratives.

11. Any other way will lead to a perpetuation of the conflict, with periods of ostensible tranquility and conciliation frequently interrupted by violent hostile actions between the two nations and between Israel and the Arab world. Considering the pace of development of weapons of mass destruction, further rounds of hostility could lead to the destruction of all sides to the conflict.

The Root of the Conflict

12. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the continuation of the historical clash between the Zionist movement and the Palestinian Arab people, a clash that began at the end of the nineteenth century and has yet to end.

13. The Zionist movement was, essentially, a Jewish reaction to the emergence of the national movements in Europe, all of which were hostile to Jews. Having been rejected by the European nations, some of the Jews decided to establish themselves as a separate nation and, following the new European model, to set up their own national state where they could be masters of their own fate. The basic Zionist tenet, drawn from the European model, that a minority cannot exist within a nationally-homogenous state, subsequently led to the practical exclusion of the Palestinian national minority in the Zionist state that came into being about fifty years later.

14. Traditional and religious motives drew the Zionist movement to Palestine (Eretz Israel in Hebrew) and led to the decision to establish the Jewish state in this land. The maxim was: "a land without a people for a people without a land." This maxim was not only created out of ignorance, but also reflected the general arrogance towards non-European peoples that prevailed in Europe at that time.

15. Palestine was not emptynot at the end of the nineteenth century, nor at any other period. At that time, there were half a million people living in Palestine, 90 percent of them Arabs. This population objected, of course, to the incursion of another nation into their land.

16. The Arab national movement emerged almost simultaneously with the Zionist movement, initially to fight the Ottoman Empire and later to fight the colonial regimes created upon its destruction at the end of World War I. A separate Arab-Palestinian national movement developed in the country after the British created a separate state called "Palestine," and in the course of the struggle against the Zionist infiltration.

17. Since the end of World War I, there has been an ongoing struggle between two nationalist movements, the Jewish-Zionist and the Palestinian-Arab, both of which aspired to accomplish their goalswhich entirely negate each otherwithin the same territory. This situation remains unchanged to this day.

18. As Jewish persecution in Europe intensified, and as the countries of the world closed their gates to the Jews attempting to flee the inferno, so the Zionist movement gained strength. The Holocaust, which took the lives of six million Jews, gave moral and political force to the Zionist claim that led to the establishment of the State of Israel.

19. The Palestinian people, witnessing the growth of the Jewish population in their land, could not comprehend why they were required to pay the price for crimes committed against the Jews by Europeans. They violently objected to further Jewish immigration and to the acquisition of lands by the Jews.

20. The complete blindness of each of the two peoples to the national existence of the other inevitably led to false and distorted perceptions that took root deep in the collective consciousness of both. These perceptions affect their attitude towards each other to this day.

21. The Arabs believed that the Jews had been implanted in the country by Western imperialism, in order to subjugate the Arab world and take control of its treasures. This conviction was strengthened by the fact that the Zionist movement, from the outset, strove for an alliance with at least one Western power (Germany, Great Britain, France, the United States) to overcome the Arab resistance. The results were a practical cooperation and a community of interests between the Zionist enterprise and imperialist and colonialist forces, directed against the Arab national movement.

22. The Jews, on the other hand, were convinced that the Arab resistance to the Zionist enterpriseintended to save the Jews from the flames of Europewas the consequence of the murderous nature of the Arabs and of Islam. In their eyes, Arab fighters were "gangs," and the uprisings of the time were called "riots."

(Actually, in the 1920s, the most extreme Zionist leader, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, was almost alone in recognizing that the Arab resistance to the Zionist settlement was an inevitable, natural, and, from this point of view, just reaction of a "native" people defending their country against foreign invaders. Jabotinsky also recognized the fact that the Arabs in the country were a separate national entity and derided attempts made to bribe the leaders of other Arab countries to put an end to the Palestinian Arab resistance. However, Jabotinsky's conclusion was to erect an "iron wall" against the Arabs and to crush their resistance by force.)

23. This total contradiction in Arab and Jewish perceptions of the facts affects every aspect of the conflict. For example, the Jews interpreted their struggle for "Jewish Labor" as a progressive social effort to transform a nation of merchants and speculators into one of workers and farmers. The Arabs, on the other hand, saw it as a criminal attempt by the Zionists to dispossess them, to evict them from the labor market, and to create, on their land, an Arab-free, separatist Jewish economy.

24. The Zionists were proud of their "Redemption of the Land." They had purchased it for full value with money collected from Jews around the world. "Olim" (new immigrants, literally pilgrims) who had been intellectuals and merchants in their former life, now earned their living by the sweat of their brow. They believed that they had achieved all this by peaceful means and without dispossessing a single Arab. For the Arabs this was a cruel narrative of dispossession and expulsion: The Jews acquired lands from rich absentee Arab landowners and then forcibly evicted the fellahin who had, for generations, been living on and earning their living from these lands. To help them with these evictions, the Zionists engaged the Turkish and, later, the British police. The Arabs looked on, despairingly, as their land was taken from them.

25. Against the Zionist claim of having successfully "turned the desert into a garden," the Arabs cited the testimonies of European travelers who spoke of a Palestine that, for several centuries, had been described as a populated and flourishing land, the equal of any of its regional neighbors.

Independence and Disaster

26. The contrast between the two national versions peaked in the war of 1948, a war called "the War of Independence" or even "the War of Liberation" by the Jews, and "El Naqba," the disaster, by the Arabs.

27. As the conflict intensified in the region, and with the resounding impact of the Holocaust, the United Nations decided to divide the country into two states, Jewish and Arab. Jerusalem and its environs were supposed to remain a separate unit, under international jurisdiction. The Jews were allotted 55 percent of the land, including the unpopulated Negev.

28. The Zionist movement accepted the partition plan, convinced that the crucial issue was to establish a firm foundation for Jewish sovereignty. In closed meetings, David Ben-Gurion never concealed his intention to expand, at the first opportunity, the territory given to the Jews. That is why Israel's Declaration of Independence did not define the state's borders and Israel has remained without definite borders to this day.

29. The Arab world did not accept the partition plan and regarded it as a vile attempt by the United Nations, which essentially was at the time a club of Western and Communist nations, to divide a country that did not belong to it. Handing over most of the country to the Jewish minority, which represented a mere third of the population, made it all the more unforgivable in their eyes.

30. The war initiated by the Arabs after the partition plan was, inescapably, an "ethnic" war; a kind of war in which each side seeks to conquer as much land as possible and evict the population of the other side. Such a campaign (which later came to be called "ethnic cleansing") always involves expulsion and atrocities.

31. The war of 1948 was a direct extension of the Zionist-Arab conflict in which each side sought to fulfill its aims. The Jews wanted to establish a homogenous, national state that would be as large as possible. The Arabs wanted to eradicate the Zionist Jewish entity that had been established in Palestine.

32. Both sides practiced ethnic cleansing as an integral part of the fighting. Not many Arabs remained in territories captured by the Jews and no Jews remained in territories captured by the Arabs. However, as the territories captured by the Jews were by far larger than those captured by the Arabs, the result was unbalanced. (The ideas of "population exchange" and "transfer" were raised in Zionist organizations as early as the 1930s. Effectively this meant the expulsion of the Arab population from the country. On the other side, many among the Arabs believed that the Zionists should go back to wherever they came from.)

33. The myth of "the few against the many" was cultivated by the Jews to describe the stand of the Jewish community of 650,000 against the entire Arab world of over a hundred million. (The Jewish community lost one percent of its people in the war.) The Arabs painted a completely different picture: A fragmented Arab population with no national leadership to speak of, with no unified command over its meager forces, with poor, few, and mostly obsolete weapons, confronted an extremely well-organized Jewish community that was highly trained in the use of its weapons. The neighboring Arab countries betrayed the Palestinians and, when they finally did send their armies, they primarily operated in competition with each other, with no coordination and no common plan. From the social and military point of view, the fighting capabilities of the Israeli side were far superior to those of the Arab states, which had hardly emerged from the colonial era.

34. According to the United Nations plan, the Jewish State was supposed to include an Arab population amounting to about 40 percent. During the war the Jewish State expanded its borders and ended up with 78 percent of the area of the land. This area was nearly devoid of Arabs. The Arab populations of Nazareth and a few villages in the Galilee remained almost incidentally; the villages in the Triangle had been given to Israel as part of a deal by King Abdullah and, therefore, could not be evacuated.

35. In the war a total of 750,000 Palestinians were uprooted. Some of them fled out of fear of the battle, as civilian populations do in every war. Some were driven away by acts of terror such as the Dir-Yassin Massacre. Others were systematically evicted in the course of the ethnic cleansing.

36. No less important than the expulsion is the fact that the refugees were not allowed to return to their homes when the fighting was over, as is the practice after a conventional war. Quite to the contrary, the new Israel saw the removal of the Arabs very much as a blessing and proceeded to demolish totally some 450 Arab villages. New Jewish villages were built on the ruins, and new Hebrew names were given to them. The abandoned houses in the cities were repopulated with new immigrants.

A Jewish State

37. The signing of the cease-fire agreements at the end of the war of 1948 did not bring an end to the historical conflict, which was, in fact, raised to new and more intensive levels.

38. The new State of Israel dedicated its early years to the consolidation of its homogenous national character as a "Jewish State." Large sections of land were expropriated from the "absentees" (the Arab refugees), from those officially designated as "present absentees" (Arabs who physically remained in Israel but were not allowed to become citizens), and even from the Arab citizens of Israel, most of whose lands were taken over. On these lands a dense network of Jewish communities was created. Jewish "immigrants" were invited and even coaxed to come en masse. This great effort fortified the State's power several times over in but a few years.

39. At the same time the State vigorously conducted a policy of obliterating the Palestinians as a national entity. With Israeli help, the Trans-Jordan monarch, Abdullah, took control over the West Bank and since then there has been, in effect, an Israeli military guarantee for the existence of the Kingdom of Jordan.

40. The main rationale of the deal between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom, which has been in effect for three generations, was to prevent the establishment of an independent Arab-Palestinian State, which was consideredthen and nowan obstacle to the realization of the Zionist objective.

41. A historical change occurred at the end of the 1950s on the Palestinian side when Yasser Arafat and his associates founded the Fatah movement designed to free the Palestinian liberation movement from the custody of the Arab governments. It was no accident that this movement emerged after the failure of the great Pan-Arab concept whose most renowned representative was Gamal Abdel Nasser. Up to this point many Palestinians had hoped to be absorbed into a united All-Arab Nation. When this hope faded, the separate national Palestinian identity re-emerged.

42. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was created by Gamal Abdel Nasser to prevent autonomous Palestinian action that might involve him in an undesired war with Israel. The organization was intended to impose Egyptian authority over the Palestinians. However, after the Arab defeat in the June 1967 war, Fatah, led by Yasser Arafat, took control over the PLO and the PLO has been the sole representative of the Palestinian people ever since.

The Six Day War

43. The June 1967 war is seen in a very different light by the two sides, as is every incident over the last 120 years. According to the Israeli myth, the Six Day War was a desperate war of defense, which miraculously placed a lot of land in Israel's hands. According to the Palestinian myth, the leaders of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan fell into a trap set by Israel in order to capture whatever was left of Palestine.

44. Many Israelis believe that the Six Day War was the root of all evil and it was only then that the peace-loving and progressive Israel turned into a conqueror and an occupier. This conviction allows them to maintain the absolute purity of Zionism and the State of Israel up to that point in history and preserve their old myths. There is no truth to this legend.

45. The war of 1967 was yet another phase of the old struggle between the two national movements. It did not change the essence; it only changed the circumstances. The essential objectives of the Zionist movementa Jewish State, expansion, and settlementwere making great strides. The particular circumstances made extensive ethnic cleansing impossible in this war, but several hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were nevertheless expelled.

46. Israel was allotted 55 percent of the land (Palestine) by the 1947 partition plan, an additional 23 percent was captured in the 1948 war and now the remaining 22 percent, across the "Green Line" (the pre-1967 armistice line), was also captured. In 1967 Israel inadvertently united the Palestinian people (including some of the refugees) under its rule.

47. As soon as the war ended, the settlement movement began. Almost every political faction in the state participated in this movementfrom the messianic-nationalistic "Gush Emunim" to the "leftist" United Kibbutz movement. The first settlers received broad support from most politicians, left and right, from Yigal Alon (the Jewish settlement in Hebron) to Shimon Peres (the Kedumim settlement).

48. The fact that all governments of Israel cultivated and advanced the settlements, albeit to different extents, proves that the settlement aspiration was restricted to no specific ideological camp and extended to the entire Zionist movement. The impression that has been created of a small minority driving the settlement movement is illusionary. Only a consolidated effort on the part of all government agencies since 1967 could have produced the legislative, strategic, and budgetary infrastructure required for such a long-lasting and expensive endeavor.

49. The legislative infrastructure incorporates the misleading assumption that the Occupation Authority is the owner of "government-owned lands," although these are the essential land reserves of the Palestinian population. It is self-evident that the settlement movement contravenes international law.

50. The dispute between the proponents of "Greater Israel" and those of "territorial compromise" is essentially a dispute about the way to achieve the basic Zionist aspiration: a homogenous Jewish State in as large a territory as possible. The proponents of "compromise" emphasize the demographic issue and want to prevent the inclusion of the Palestinian population in the State. The "Greater Israel" adherents place the emphasis on the geographic issue and believe (privately or publicly) that it is possible to expel the non-Jewish population from the country (code name: "Transfer").

51. The general staff of the Israeli army (under Ariel Sharon in particular) played an important role in the planning and building of the settlements. It created the map of the settlementsincluding blocs of settlements and bypass roads, lateral and longitudinalso that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are chopped up into pieces and the Palestinians are imprisoned in isolated enclaves, each of which is surrounded by settlements and the occupation forces.

52. The Palestinians employed several methods of resistance, mainly raids across the Jordanian and Lebanese borders and attacks inside Israel and everywhere in the world. These acts are called "terrorist" by the Israelis while the Palestinians see them as the legitimate resistance of an occupied nation. The PLO leadership, headed by Yasser Arafat, had long been considered a terrorist leadership by the Israelis but has gradually come to be internationally recognized as the "sole legitimate representative" of the Palestinian people.

53. At the end of 1987, when the Palestinians realized that these actions were not putting an end to the settlement momentum, they launched the Intifadaa grassroots uprising of all sectors of the population. In this Intifida, 1500 Palestinians were killed, among them hundreds of children, several times the number of Israeli losses.

The Peace Process

54. The October 1973 war, which commenced with the surprise victory of the Egyptian and Syrian forces and culminated with their defeat, convinced Yasser Arafat and his close associates that there is no military way to achieve the national Palestinian objectives. He decided to embark upon a political path to reach agreement with Israel and to pursue at least a partial achievement of the national goals through negotiation.

55. To prepare the ground for this, Arafat created contact for the first time with Israeli personalities who could make an impact on public opinion and on government policy in Israel. His emissaries (Said Hamami and Issam Sartawi) met with Israeli public figures, the peace pioneers who in 1975 established the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

56. These contacts, as well as the growing fatigue felt by the Israelis during the Intifada, the Jordanian withdrawal from the West Bank, changing international conditions (the collapse of the Communist bloc, the Gulf War) led to the Madrid Conference and, later, to the Oslo Agreement.

The Oslo Agreement

57. The Oslo Agreement had positive and negative features.

58. On the positive side, this agreement brought Israel to its first official recognition of the Palestinian people and its national leadership and brought the national Palestinian movement to its recognition of the existence of Israel. In this respect the agreement (and the exchange of letters that preceded it) were of paramount historical significance.

59. In effect, the agreement gave the national Palestinian movement a territorial base on Palestinian land, the structure of a "state in the making," and armed forcesfacts that would play an important role in the ongoing Palestinian struggle. For the Israelis, the agreement opened the gates to the Arab world and put an end to Palestinian attacksas long as the agreement was effective.

60. The most substantive flaw in the agreement was that both sides hoped to achieve entirely different objectives. The Palestinians saw it as a temporary agreement paving the way to the end of the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian State in all the occupied territories. The respective Israeli governments regarded it as a way to maintain the occupation in large sections of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with the Palestinian self-government filling the role of an auxiliary security agency protecting Israel and the settlements.

61. Therefore, Oslo did not represent the beginning of the process to end the conflict but, rather, a new phase of the conflict.

62. Because the expectations of both sides were so divergent and each remained entirely bound to its own national "narrative," every section of the agreement was interpreted differently. Ultimately, many parts of the agreement were not carried out, mainly by Israel (for example: the third withdrawal, the four safe passages, and others).

63. Throughout the period of the "Oslo Process," Israel continued its vigorous expansion of the settlements, primarily by creating new ones under various guises, expanding existing ones, building an elaborate network of "bypass" roads, expropriating land, demolishing houses, and uprooting plantations. The Palestinians, for their part, used the time to build their strength, both within the framework of the agreement and without it. In fact, the historical confrontation continued unabated under the guise of negotiations and the "peace process," which became a proxy for actual peace.

64. In contradistinction to his image (as an unequivocal supporter of reconciliation with the Palestinians), Yitzhak Rabin continued many of the practices of the occupation while simultaneously managing the political process to achieve peace on Israeli terms. As he was a disciple of the Zionist "narrative" and accepted its mythology, he suffered from cognitive dissonance when his hopes for peace clashed with his conceptual world. It appears that he began to internalize some parts of the Palestinian historical narrative only at the very end of his life.

65. The case of Shimon Peres is much more severe. He created for himself an international image of a peacemaker and even designed his language to reflect this image ("the New Middle East") while remaining essentially a traditional Zionist hawk. This became clear in the short and violent period that he served as Prime Minister after the assassination of Rabin and, again, in his current acceptance of the role of spokesman and apologist for Sharon.

66. The clearest expression of the Israeli dilemma was provided by Ehud Barak, who came to power completely convinced of his ability to cut the Gordian knot of the historical conflict in one dramatic stroke, in the fashion of Alexander the Great. Barak approached the issue in total ignorance of the Palestinian narrative, showing utter contempt for its importance. He presented his proposals as ultimatums and was appalled and enraged by their rejection.

67. In his own eyes and in the eyes of Israel as a whole, Barak "turned every stone" and made the Palestinians "more generous offers than any previous Prime Minister." In exchange, he wanted the Palestinians to lend their signatures to "an end to the conflict." The Palestinians considered this offer preposterous, since Barak was effectively asking them to relinquish their basic national aspirations, such as the Right of Return and sovereignty in East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Moreover, while Barak presented the claims for the annexation of territories as a matter of negligible percentages ("Settlement Blocs"), according to Palestinian calculations Barak's offer amounted to an actual annexation of 20 percent of the land beyond the Green Line.

68. In the Palestinian view, they had already made the decisive compromise by agreeing to establish their State beyond the Green Line, in merely 22 percent of their historical homeland. Therefore, they could only accept minor border changes in the context of territorial swaps. The traditional Israeli position is that the achievements of the war of 1948 are established facts that cannot be disputed and the compromise required must focus on the remaining 22 percent.

69. As with most terms and concepts, the word "concession" has different meanings for both sides. The Palestinians believe that they already "conceded" 78 percent of their land when they agreed to accept 22 percent of it. The Israelis believe that they are "conceding" when they agree to "give" the Palestinians parts of that same 22 percent (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip).

70. The Camp David Summit in the summer of 2000, which was imposed on Arafat against his will, was premature and brought things to a climax. Barak's demands, presented at the summit as Clinton's, were that the Palestinians: agree to end the conflict by relinquishing the Right of Return and the Return itself; accept complicated arrangements for East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount without achieving sovereignty over them; agree to large territorial annexations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; agree to an Israeli military presence in other large areas; and agree to Israeli control over the borders separating the Palestinian State from the rest of the world. No Palestinian leader would ever sign such an agreement and thus the summit ended in deadlock.

The El Aqsa Intifada

71. The breakdown of the summit, the elimination of any hope for an agreement between the two sides, and the unconditional pro-Israeli stance of the Americans, inevitably led to another round of violent confrontations, which earned the title of "The al-Aqsa Intifada." For the Palestinians, this Intifada is a justified national uprising against the protracted occupation, which has no end in sight and allows continual, daily pulling of their land out from under their feet. For the Israelis, it is an outburst of murderous terrorism. The perpetrators of these acts appear to the Palestinians as national heroes and to the Israelis as merciless criminals who must be liquidated.

72. The official media in Israel no longer mention settlers but speak of "residents" upon whom any attack is a crime against civilians. The Palestinians consider the settlers the forefront of a dangerous enemy force whose intention is to dispossess them of their land and who must be defeated.

73. A great part of the Israeli "Peace Camp" collapsed during the al-Aqsa Intifada. Especially after Barak had "turned every stone" and made "more generous offers than any previous Prime Minister," Palestinian behavior was incomprehensible to this part of the "Peace Camp," since it had never performed a thorough revision of the Zionist "narrative" and did not internalize the fact that there is a Palestinian "narrative" too. The only remaining explanation for these peaceniks was that the Palestinians had deceived them, that the Palestinians had never intended to make peace, and that their true purpose was to throw the Jews into the sea, as the Zionist right had always claimed.

74. As a result, the dividing line between the Zionist "right" and "left" disappeared. The leaders of the Labor Party joined the Sharon government and became his most effective apologists (e.g. Shimon Peres); even the formal leftist opposition (e.g. Yossi Sarid) took part. The joining of Israeli Left and Right again proves that the Zionist narrative is the decisive factor unifying all factions of the political system in Israel.

75. There is a notable decline in the Palestinian willingness to reopen a dialogue with the Israeli peace forces. This is a consequence of their utter disappointment with the "leftist government" which had inspired so much hope after the Netanyahu years, as well as a consequence of the fact that, apart from the voice of small radical peace groups, no Israeli outrage at the brutal reactions of the occupation forces has been heard. The tendency to tighten ranks, typical of any nation in a war of liberation, makes it possible for the extreme nationalistic and religious forces on the Palestinian side to veto any attempt at Israeli-Palestinian cooperation.

A New Peace Camp

76. The breakdown of the old peace camp necessitates the creation of a new Israeli peace camp that will be real, up-to-date, effective, and strong, that can influence the Israeli public and bring about a complete re-evaluation of the old axioms in order to effect a change in the Israeli political system.

77. To do so, the new peace camp must lead public opinion towards a brave reassessment of the national "narrative" and rid it of false myths. It must strive to unite the historical versions of both peoples into a single "narrative," free from historical deceptions, which will be acceptable to both sides.

78. While creating this new narrative the peace camp must also make the Israeli public aware that along with all the beautiful and positive aspects of the Zionist enterprise, a terrible injustice was done to the Palestinian people. This injustice, which peaked during the "Naqba," obliges us to assume responsibility and correct as much of it as is possible.

79. With a new understanding of the past and the present, the new peace camp must formulate a peace plan based on the following principles:

(a) An independent and free Palestinian State will be established alongside Israel.

(b) The Green Line will be the border between the two States. If agreed between the two sides, limited territorial exchanges may be possible.

(c) The Israeli settlements will be evacuated from the territory of the Palestinian State.

(d) The border between the two States will be open to the movement of people and goods, subject to arrangements made by mutual agreement.

(e) Jerusalem will be the capital of both StatesWest Jerusalem the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem capital of Palestine. The State of Palestine will have complete sovereignty in East Jerusalem, including the Haram al-Sharif (the Temple Mount). The State of Israel will have complete sovereignty in West Jerusalem, including the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter. Both States will reach agreement on the unity of the city on the physical, municipal level.

(f) Israel will recognize, in principle, the Palestinian Right of Return as an inalienable human right. The practical solution to the problem will come about by agreement based on just, fair, and practical considerations and will include return to the territory of the State of Palestine, return to the State of Israel, and compensation.

(g) The water resources will be controlled jointly and allocated by agreement, equally and fairly.

(h) A security agreement between the two States will ensure the security of both and take into consideration the specific security needs of Israel as well as of Palestine.

(i) Israel and Palestine will cooperate with other states in the region to establish a Middle Eastern community, modeled on the European Union.

80. The signing of a peace agreement and its honest implementation in good faith will lead to a historical reconciliation between the two nations, based on equality, cooperation, and mutual respect.

Drafted by Uri Avnery and submitted by Gush Shalom for public debate. If you generally agree with the spirit of this document, please send comments and remarks to Gush Shalom at info@gush-shalom.org or P.O.Box 3322, Tel-Aviv, Israel 61033. Hebrew and English versions can be downloaded from www.gush-shalom.org.


Gush Shalom is an Israeli non-partisan grassroots peace movement composed of Jews and Arabs. These theses were drafted by Gush Shalom founder Uri Avnery.

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