Hurrah for those who came out yesterday and marched with the “Progressives” in the Israel Day Parade. We were around 125-130 people. We were young and old–I saw a father and his daughter– we were from several “progressive” organizations and the spirit was great. We sang and walked carrying signs and banners.
Yes, there were those who cursed us, but there were more of those who saw us with our Peace Now signs, our Meretz banner, singing songs of peace, who clapped and held up two fingers for victory. Overall I felt there were more people on the sidewalk who cheered us on then those who disapproved. That’s a positive. On that note, below is a realistic appraisal by Gershon Baskin of how things are on the ground. The message of Meretz USA right now is to return to negotiations. Soon I will send out news about the change that Meretz USA will be undergoing.–Lilly
by Gershon Baskin
The best thing that could happen is to return to negotiations; but if not, it’s imperative to prevent a return to a violent intifada.
…. The idea that whatever happens in September will produce immediate changes on the ground is irresponsible because it raises expectations to dangerous levels. The most important thing that should not happen after September is a new round of violence. That should be avoided at all costs, and both sides must take responsibility so that it does not occur. Prior to September, the best thing that could occur is for the parties to return to the negotiating table. In order for that to take place, there must be a seriously prepared table set up by responsible members of the international community, led by the United States. The table must be set with the parameters delineated by President Barack Obama last month in his two Middle East speeches.
My suggestion would be for the president, in the framework of the Quartet, to issue invitations to the parties with those parameters specifically framed as the terms of reference. The Quartet should also agree on a new mediator to replace George Mitchell, whose task will be not only to convene the talks but to serve as an active mediator in any dispute. The role of the mediator must be to allow the parties to present their positions, and then to propose bridging proposals.
…. IF THE parties should not arrive at negotiations before September, then it is imperative that they each take steps to prevent a return to a militarized intifada. It is always important to remember that absolutely no political achievements were gained by the second intifada. Thousands of people lost their lives, tens of thousands were injured, billions of dollars were lost to both economies, the fear of each other rose to almost unbridgeable levels, true hatred developed across both societies, the children of the second intifada carry with them bitter, indelible memories of those years, the peace camp in Israel was destroyed, Palestinian society went deep into chaos, and the lawlessness of streets controlled by guns took over. The achievements of the past several years, during which the Palestinians have
engaged in active state building, are too precious to be destroyed by a return to lawlessness.
…. The government of Israel should accept the Obama parameters because they will not improve in Israel’s favor. Israel’s standing in the international community will continue to deteriorate despite the support it has in the US Congress.
…. IF WE end up without a framework for negotiations, the Palestinian leadership must articulate a clear strategy that will lead to negotiations with a greater chance of reaching an end of the occupation and a peace treaty. This should include the issuing of a Palestinian declaration of peace with Israel, spelling out clearly the basis for Palestinian-Israeli peace.
That declaration should be the heart of a UN General Assembly resolution to replace previous UN Resolutions 242 and 338 as the points of reference for future negotiations. The Palestinian leadership, together with the grassroots popular committees, need to develop a non-violent strategy against the occupation and for peace.
…. The Palestinians should also call on Israelis who want to end the occupation and bring peace to join them on the front lines of their non-violent struggle. With mainstream Israelis alongside them (that is Israelis who support the two-state solution), the chances are much higher that violent Israeli responses will be mitigated. For this to happen, the Palestinian non-violent struggle must be really non-violent, not “sort of non-violent” meaning that even stones should not be thrown. It also means that there must be a clear articulation of the goals of the struggle which verbalize not only the end of occupation, but also peace between the two states on acceptable grounds to both sides. Many more ideas can be offered to advance these goals; the more we talk about them and define them the more likely we can shift the deadlock into positive movement toward peace. [Read entire column at The Jerusalem Post website.]
The writer is co-CEO of IPCRI, the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, and
founder of the Center for Israeli Progress.
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