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The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Requirements for a Just_ Secure

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					F RIENDS C OMMITTEE

ON

Perspectives
NATI ONAL LEGI S LATI ON
MARCH 2003 NUMBER 5

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Requirements for a Just, Secure, and Lasting Peace
Palestinians and Israelis have, in recent months, lived through some of the worst violence and destruction of the decades-long conflict between them. For Israelis, civilian casualties, mostly from Palestinian suicide bombings, have been greater than at any time since independence in 1948. For Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (map, Fig. 1, p. 2), the loss of life and the destruction of property have been far greater than at any time since the 1947-48 fighting, greater even than when Israeli forces first occupied the territories in 1967. Nor, in thirty-five years of occupation, have Palestinians ever experienced the near total, round-the-clock curfews and travel bans that Israel has employed in recent months. The death and destruction have understandably engendered bitterness, anger, frustration, and even hatred between the two peoples. A majority of Palestinians have, at least at times, voiced approval of attacks against civilians in Israel.1 And, according to some recent polls, nearly half of Israeli Jews favor
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1.

the expulsion or “transfer” of the Palestinian population from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.2 Yet, despite the mounting toll of the violence and the alienation it brings, there are, remarkably, other currents flowing through Israeli and Palestinian public opinion. Polls suggest that nearly 60% of the Israeli public believes that a military withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza and the dismantling of most Israeli settlements in those areas would lead to peace with the Palestinians. The same percentage believes that only negotiations and not military force can end terrorism and achieve security for Israel. A majority of Israelis, moreover, are willing to see an international peacekeeping force installed in the West Bank and Gaza to provide greater stability and security.3 Among Palestinians there are prominent critics of the suicide bombings. Polls consistently show that 60% or 70% of the West Bank-Gaza public favors a cease-fire with Israel and new peace negotiations.4
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2.

Press Release, Poll Conducted 15-18 May 2002, Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 21 May 2002, <http://www.pcpsr.org/survey/polls/2002/p4epressrelease.html> (8 January 2003).

“More Israeli Jews favor transfer of Palestinians, Israeli Arabs - poll finds,” Ha’aretz Online English Edition, March 2002, <http://www.haaretz.co.il.hasen/objects/pages/ PrintArticleEn.jhtml?itemNo=140196> (11 March 2002). “Poll: 59% say W. Bank, Gaza exit would renew peace process,” Ha’aretz Online English Edition, May 2002, <http://www.haaretz.co.il.hasen/objects/pages/PrintArticleEn.jhtml?itemNo=161786> (9 May 2002). Poll Conducted 19-24 December 2001, Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 25 December 2001, <http://www.pcpsr.org/survey/polls/2001/p3epressrelease.html> (8 January 2003).

3.

This analysis was prepared for FCNL by Jim Fine. Jim, a former Quaker International Affairs Representative for the Middle East, served as the director of the Friends Schools at Ramallah and el-Bireh during the 1998-99 school year. He is an international student advisor at the University of Pennsylvania. During the summer of 2002, Jim visited the Middle East as a member of an international Quaker working party on the Israel-Palestine conflict facilitated by the American Friends Service Committee’s Middle East Working Group.
Friends Committee on National Legislation

4.

Preparation of this FCNL Perspectives paper has been funded in part by a grant to the FCNL Education Fund made by the Kirk-Plumsock Trust of the Willistown Friends Meeting.
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The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), a Quaker lobby in the public interest, seeks to follow the leadings of the Spirit as it speaks for itself and for like-minded Friends. Views expressed in FCNL Perspectives are guided by the Statement of Legislative Policy which is prepared and approved by FCNL’s General Committee. FCNL includes Friends appointed by 26 Friends’ yearly meetings and by seven other Friends’ organizations in the United States. Clerk: Joanne Rains Assistant Clerk: Stephen McNeil Executive Secretary: Joe Volk FCNL Perspectives are sent free upon request. Your contributions are needed to support FCNL’s lobbying and education work. Author: Jim Fine Editor: Florence C. Kimball Document Number: G-03-001F Reprinting items from the FCNL Perspectives: We encourage our readers to copy and distribute the FCNL Perspectives or to quote sections of the FCNL Perspectives. When doing so, please include the following credit: "Reprinted from the FCNL Perspectives, [month and year] published by the Friends Committee on National Legislation." We would appreciate receiving a copy with a brief note indicating how and where the item was used and the approximate number of copies distributed. Friends Committee on National Legislation 245 Second Street NE Washington, DC 20002-5795 Phone: 202-547-6000 Toll free: 800-630-1330 Fax: 202-547-6019 Legislative Action Message: 202-547-4343 email: fcnl@fcnl.org web site: http://www.fcnl.org Printed on recycled paper with soybased ink.

But the most remarkable development in Palestinian opinion is the growing chorus of voices calling for the reform of Palestinian politics, for new elections, and for fundamental changes in the structure of the Palestinian Authority and its policies.5 From all of these developments it is clear that sizable majorities of both Israelis and Palestinians believe that the policies and actions of their respective leaderships have carried them into a downward spiral of violence and suffering that serves no purpose. These Palestinians and Israelis are open to constructive change, but they will need sensitive, adroit, and firm support from the United States and others in the international community if they are to escape the downward spiral and move toward peace. What might the U.S. and other nations do to help? What can Friends and others do to encourage constructive policies? The answers to these questions rest in an understanding of how the Oslo peace process, begun in 1993, became a process that produced stalemate and violence instead of peace.

Why did Oslo fail?
Analyses by Israeli and Palestinian journalists and scholars of why Oslo led to renewed conflict are, in essence, very similar. Palestinian political scientist Salah Abdul Jawad, for example, cites several factors that discredited the Oslo process and produced mounting skepticism among Palestinians. Abdul Jawad notes that Oslo did not bring security to the West Bank and Gaza. This was evident when, in February 1994, an Israeli settler shot dead 29 Palestinians praying in the Ibrahimi Mosque at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.6 During the immediate riots and subsequent demonstra_________________________
5.

Fig. 1. Israel, the Occupied Territories, and immediate neighbors.

Press Release, Poll Conducted 15-18 May 2002, Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. Danny Rubinstein, “Five ways to kill a peace agreement,” 3 April 2001, reprinted by the American Committee on Jerusalem, <http://www.acj.org/april/april_3.ht m> (16 January 2003).

6.

Reproduced with permission from Missed Opportunties for Peace: U.S. Middle East Policy 1981-1986 by Ronald Young, AFSC.

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tions protesting the attack, Israeli forces killed more than 20 additional Arabs. Israel imposed a six-week closure on Palestinian Hebron, but not on the Israeli settlements in Hebron. A number of Israeli cabinet ministers at the time recognized the importance of the Ibrahimi Mosque attack for the future of the Oslo process and argued that the government should immediately remove the Israeli settlers living in buildings in the center of Hebron, both to eliminate an explosive flash point and to signal an intention to evacuate settlements as part of the peace process. The Israeli cabinet, however, decided against the evacuation of the Hebron settlers.7 Abdul Jawad and others also cite Israeli-imposed closures and curfews restricting Palestinian movement, especially the closure of Jerusalem to all West Bank and Gaza residents except a few given special permits, and Israel’s failure to release as many political-security prisoners as Palestinians expected as other factors that diminished Palestinian support for Oslo.8 The closures and restrictions on movement had an economic impact that was widely felt. The number of Palestinians able to travel to work in Israel fell sharply, unemployment increased, and business activity was disrupted. Overall, instead of the expected economic dividends of Oslo, the Palestinian standard of living declined 20 percent from 1993 levels.9 Most Palestinian observers would agree with the Israeli analyst Ze’ev Schiff, senior military affairs correspondent for the leading daily Ha’aretz, that the Palestinian Authority (PA) also took actions that contributed to the collapse of the Oslo process. Schiff cites the failure of the PA to collect illegal weapons held by Palestinians, the arming of the semi-independent Tanzim militia, smuggling large quantities of arms, ammunition and explosives into the West
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Bank and Gaza, and increasing the size of the Palestinian security forces well beyond the levels permitted by Oslo.10

“But above all, there was the relentless expansion of the existing settlements and the establishment of new settlements, with a concomitant expropriation of Palestinian land.” Ze’ev Schiff, senior military affairs correspondent for Ha’aretz, on the failure of Oslo and the outbreak of violence.

On the Israeli side, noting another factor often mentioned by Palestinians, Schiff says that “considerable responsibility devolves on Israel because of its deliberate foot-dragging and its disruption of the timetables contained in the agreements – for example, in the implementation of the various stages of the redeployment. As a result, the Palestinians reached the conclusion that Israel was pushing them into accepting small- scale interim agreements which keep on being renewed endlessly and are never carried out.”11 “But above all,” Schiff writes in his analysis of the failure of Oslo and the outbreak of violence, “there was the relentless expansion of the existing settlements and the establishment of new settlements, with a concomitant expropriation of Palestinian land. Israel is responsible for creating new facts, which will affect the final agreement, in the course of negotiations. This was pronounced in and around Jerusalem, and elsewhere as well. The territories that were seized shut in the Palestinians from all sides. Their conclusion was that the prospect of being able to establish a viable state was fading right before their eyes.”12 On this point Salah Abdul
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10.

Clyde Haberman, “Israeli Ministers Debate Evictions of Jews in Hebron,” New York Times, 7 March 1994. Michal Yudelman, “Peres: We’ll announce when we decide to evacuate Jewish settlers from Hebron,” The Jerusalem Post, 24 March 1994. Rubinstein, “Five ways to kill a peace agreement.” Deborah Sontag, “Quest for Mideast Peace: How and Why it Failed,” New York Times, 26 July 2001.

Ze’ev Schiff, “Oslo may be dead, but occupation is not the solution,” Ha’aretz Online English Edition, 24 November 2000, <http://www2.haaretz.co.il/special/mounte/b/338303.asp> (28 November 2000). Ze’ev Schiff, “Oslo may be dead, but occupation is not the solution.” Ze’ev Schiff, “Oslo may be dead, but occupation is not the solution.”

8. 9.

11.

12.

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Jawad and other Palestinian analysts are in complete agreement with Schiff. None of Israel’s actions have from their perspectives been as harmful to the hopes raised by Oslo than the dramatic expansion of Israeli settlements in every year since the Oslo accords of 1993.13 In retrospect, it seems clear that it was not only the mistakes of the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships that led to the collapse of Oslo but also the American failure to challenge effectively any of the harmful Palestinian and Israeli actions. Schiff formulates the “great mistake of the American mediators” as the failure “to clamp down on the Palestinian Authority” and “put pressure on it when it violated agreements and waged violence” or to “come out forcefully against the Palestinians’ incitement. On the other side, they did not take steps to ensure that the Oslo timetables were met and they made do with noncommittal statements and mild wrist-slapping about the new settlements established by Israel. The Americans’ point of departure, as they explain today, was that if all the parties involved rush forward, the violations will be forgotten.”14 Palestinian analysts might differ somewhat in emphasis but would agree with Schiff’s main point that the U.S. was far too lax in pressing the parties to observe the letter and spirit of the Oslo accords. While careful Israeli and Palestinian analysts place responsibility for the collapse of the Oslo process on policies and events from 1993 to 2000, another explanation for the Oslo failure has gained wide currency. This explanation focuses on the unsuccessful Camp David summit conference of July 2000. As Deborah Sontag wrote in a long July 2001 New York Times article examining the failure of Oslo, “a potent, simplistic narrative has taken hold in Israel and to some extent in the United States. It says: Mr. Barak [then Israel’s Prime Minister] offered Mr. Arafat the moon at Camp David last summer. Mr. Arafat turned it down, and then ‘pushed the button’ and chose the path of violence.” A variant version places the sole blame on Mr.
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13. 14.

Arafat for rejecting an even better offer at talks in the Egyptian resort of Taba in January 2001.15 Against this interpretation Ms. Sontag quotes Israel’s foreign minister at the time, Shlomo Ben-Ami, who said that the Taba talks were suspended not by Mr. Arafat’s rejection of Israel’s offer but by Israel, because Israeli elections were imminent and “‘the pressure of Israeli public opinion against the talks could not be resisted.’” She also reports that Joseph Alpher, one of the Israeli experts who advised Prime Minister Barak at Camp David, argues that the Palestinian uprising was caused by the failures of the seven-year post-Oslo period, not by the impasse at Camp David.16

“The great mistake of the American mediators was that they did not clamp down on the Palestinian Authority and did not put pressure on it when it violated agreements and waged violence. Nor did they come out forcefully against the Palestinians’ incitement. On the other side, they did not take steps to ensure that the Oslo timetables were met...” Ze’ev Schiff, senior military affairs correspondent for Ha’aretz, on the failure of Oslo and the outbreak of violence.

Two American officials who were closely involved with the negotiations echo Alpher’s view. Ms. Sontag cites Dennis Ross, who told the Jerusalem Post “one of the lessons I’ve learned is that you can’t have one environment at the negotiating tables and a different reality on the ground.” And Rob Malley, who headed the National Security Council’s Middle East desk in the Clinton Administration, told a public gathering “If the fundamental equation had to be land for peace, how can it have any meaning and any relevance when, on the one hand, land was being taken away on a daily basis and, on the other
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15.

Deborah Sontag, “Quest for Mideast Peace: How and Why it Failed.” Deborah Sontag, “Quest for Mideast Peace: How and Why it Failed.”

Rubinstein, “Five ways to kill a peace agreement.” Ze’ev Schiff, “Oslo may be dead, but occupation is not the solution.”

16.

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hand, the peace was being maligned on a daily basis.”17

The Settlements
Two months after the Palestinian uprising began in September 2000, Israel’s Peace Now movement prefaced a report on settlements by writing, “There were clearly violations of the Oslo Accords on both sides, but looking at the expansion of settlements and the deepening Israeli presence since the signing of Oslo, it is not difficult to understand the present crisis. Many Palestinians came to doubt Israel’s intention of ever leaving the territories or making genuine peace.”18 Friends (Quakers) familiar with Palestinian public opinion will recognize the simple truth of this statement, which deserves recognition for its accurate perception of a major influence on Palestinian thinking. Two Israeli organizations, Peace Now and the human rights group B’Tselem, have carefully monitored the growth in housing units and population and what might be termed the legal and administrative development of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories that Israel occupied in 1967. B’Tselem cites data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics showing that, from the end of 1993 to the end of 2000 (approximately the interval between Oslo and the beginning of the Palestinian uprising), the population of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, increased from 110,900 to 191,600, or some 73 percent. During the same period, the Israeli population in formally annexed East Jerusalem rose from 146,800 to 173,000.19 Figures available for Gaza show an increase from 4,800 to 6,120 from 1993 to the end of 1999.20
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The Oslo accords did not explicitly prohibit Israeli settlement construction, but they did provide that “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.”21 Whether or not this provision should be construed to apply to settlement construction, it is evident from a subsequent Israeli pledge to the U.S. that Israel, the Palestinians, and the U.S. all recognized the importance of the settlement issue for the Oslo process.22 Soon after the Oslo accords, the government of Itzhak Rabin promised the U.S. that Israel would not establish new settlements and would not expand existing ones, except to meet the needs occasioned by the “natural growth” of the settler population. Palestinian negotiators seem to have accepted this pledge as a sufficient guarantee on the settlement question. While all subsequent Israeli governments have reaffirmed this commitment, Israel has interpreted “natural growth” to be a much broader concept than “natural increase,” i.e. the population increase due only to an excess of births over deaths. In practice, “natural growth” has meant as rapid an expansion of settlements as available resources permit. An essentially unlimited interpretation of “natural growth” plus an exception Israel declared for an extensive “greater Jerusalem area” in the center of the West Bank have made possible, despite the pledge, the near doubling of the settlement population during the seven years of the Oslo period.23 The settlements (map, Fig. 2, p. 6) harm the Palestinian population in a number of ways. Most obviously, they prevent Palestinian development in (and even access to) substantial tracts of land. The settlements control 20% of the Gaza Strip.24 In the West Bank, while the built-up settlement area
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21.

Deborah Sontag, “Quest for Mideast Peace: How and Why it Failed.” Report on settlements, 4 December 2000, prepared by Peace Now, p. 1, <http://www.peacenow.org.il>. (Report is no longer available on the Peace Now web site.) “Land Grab: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank,” B’Tselem, May 2002, Table 2, p. 18 and Table 1, p. 17, <http://www.btselem.org/Download/Land_Grab_Eng.pdf> (17 February 2003). Report on settlements, 4 December 2000, prepared by Peace Now, p. 5.

18.

“Land Grab: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank,” p. 15. “Land Grab: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank,” pp. 15-16. “Land Grab: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank,” p. 16. “Creating Facts: Israel’s Settlement Vision,” Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories, March 2002, p. 4, Foundation for Middle East Peace, <http://www.fmep.org/reports>.

22.

19.

23.

24.

20.

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Fig. 2. Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories - 2002.

Reproduced with permission from Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories: A Guide, a special report of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, March 2002.

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occupies only 1.7% of the land, the settlements are actually in possession of 41.9% of the West Bank.25 This includes the lands within the municipal boundaries of the larger settlements and the lands within the much wider “regional council” boundaries that group the smaller settlements into county-like administrative units. In some cases, the extended municipal or regional settlement boundaries abut built-up Palestinian areas, preventing the urban development required to meet the needs of a growing Palestinian population. The Israeli army controls additional areas of the West Bank, bringing the total under Israeli control to 59%.26 (See box, p. 8.) Under a 1996 Israeli military government order, Palestinians are barred from entering the extended settlement areas without a special permit.27 (Enforcement of the order has usually been gradual; Palestinians have sometimes been notified months or years after the fact that an area has been included within a settlement border and that, consequently, they can no longer enter it.)

ning law, and the laws regulating local and regional government, for example, have all been extended to the settlement areas by Israeli military government orders. Typically, the orders simply incorporate the text of the relevant Israeli law, thus creating by authority of the military government a legal regime identical to Israel’s. This accomplishes, in effect, a de facto annexation of the settlement areas, without the international political problems that de jure annexation would bring.28 Because the settlements are interspersed among Palestinians cities, towns, and villages, Palestinian territorial continuity is impossible. This precludes the possibility of a Palestinian state in any normal sense. In some cases, the location of settlements along key access roads has led to strict permanent restrictions on Palestinian movement.29 The settlements also consume many times the Palestinian per capita usage of the severely limited water resources of the West Bank and Gaza, worsening an already serious problem for Palestinians.30 The Israeli political thinking and development planning underlying the settlements as they exist today is more than twenty years old. It was first given comprehensive articulation in the settlement plan prepared by the World Zionist Organization for the government of Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1978. This plan, with frequent amendments (including one version dubbed the “Sharon
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28.

“Military legislation, in the form of the collection of military orders published by the Commander of IDF Forces in the West Bank, provides an extremely effective tool for realizing Israel’s policy of imposing its own law on the settlements and the settlers, while separating them from Palestinian residents and their communities.” B’Tselem, Land Grab, chapter 4

Not only have Palestinians lost the right to develop their land or to move freely in a substantial portion of the occupied territories, Palestinians have lost legal jurisdiction over the areas controlled by the settlements. The legal structure that Israel has elaborated to govern the settlements has, by military order, replaced Palestinian law in these areas. The jurisdiction of Israel’s civil and criminal courts, Israeli plan_________________________
25.

“Land Grab: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank,” pp. 65-67.

29.

“Land Grab: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank,” p. 16. “Creating Facts: Israel’s Settlement Vision,” p. 4. “Land Grab: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank,” Chapter 4, “The Annexation Policy and Local Government.”

26. 27.

“Land Grab: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank,” p. 44. 30. The disparate distribution of water has been reported by Israeli’s and others, as well as by Palestinians. Following is a sampling. (1) “Disputed Waters,” September 1998 and “The Gap in Water Consumption between Palestinians and Israelis,” B’Tselem, <http://www.btselem.org>. (2) David Newman, “Thirsty for coexistence,” Jerusalem Post, 22 May 2002. (3) “Israeli Settlements on Occupied Palestinian Territories,” The Palestinian Monitor, <http://www.palestinianmonitor.org/factsheet/settlement.html>, (12 February 2003). (4) “The Socio-economic Impact of Settlements on Land, Water, and the Palestinian Economy,” Israeli Settlement in the Occupied Territories, July 1998, Foundation for Middle East Peace, <http://www.fmep.org/reports>.

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Israelis and Palestinians in the Occupied Territories
“As of February 2002, there are 400,000 Israelis living in occupied territory. In the West Bank, there are 206,000 Israeli settlers and 2 million Palestinians, although settlements, adjacent confiscated land, settlement roads and other land controlled by the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] cover 59 percent of the area. In the Gaza Strip, 7,000 settlers control 20 percent of this 140 square mile area amidst about 1.1 million Palestinians. There are 170,000 settlers in East Jerusalem [sic, cf. B’Tselem’s figure of 173,000] and 16,000 in the Golan Heights.” Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories: A Guide, a special report of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, Washington, DC (March 2002) Plan” for Ariel Sharon, who as Minister of Agriculture played a key role in settlement policy in the 1977-1981 Begin government) has guided Israeli settlement policy ever since. The 1980 version of the plan makes the case that The civilian presence of Jewish communities is vital for the security of the state. . . .There must not be the slightest doubt regarding our intention to hold the areas of Judea and Samaria [i.e. the West Bank] forever. . . .The best and most effective way to remove any shred of doubt regarding our intention to hold Judea and Samaria forever is a rapid settlement drive in these areas . . .31 Given the scale of the settlements, their impact on the Palestinians, and both Israeli statements and Palestinian perceptions of their purpose, it is clear that any improvement in Israeli-Palestinian relations
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will require a change in Israeli settlement activity. As former Sen. George Mitchell’s May 2001 report on the conflict concluded, “A cessation of Palestinian-Israeli violence will be particularly hard to sustain unless the Government of Israel freezes all settlement construction activity.”32 An unequivocal Israeli settlement freeze would eliminate one of the major causes of the failure of Oslo and pave the way for a resumption of meaningful peace negotiations.

The Palestinian Authority and Reform
As early as 1998, Quaker visitors to the West Bank and Gaza noted widespread discontent with the Palestinian Authority led by Yasser Arafat. Although PLO Chairman Arafat was elected president of the Palestinian Authority by 88% of voters in January 1996, it was little more than two years before frustration with his rule was evident among many Palestinians of widely differing political persuasions. Criticism from Islamic conservatives and secular liberals or leftists was very similar. Mr. Arafat was governing almost entirely through the “Tunisiyeen,” the PLO officers who arrived with him from exile in Tunisia, to the near exclusion of the West Bank-Gaza leaders who had played a key role in mounting civil resistance to the Israeli occupation. He had created far too many security forces, which competed with each other for power and bullied and abused the West Bank-Gaza civilian population. Top lieutenants lived ostentatiously. Corruption was rife. The Palestinian legislature and court system had no independent power. The Palestinian Authority was in practice the rule of one man. Moreover, by 1998, local Palestinians were already deeply concerned by the failure of PA negotiators to win a settlement freeze, prevent new large-scale Israeli land seizures, or prevent new and unprecedented restrictions on Palestinian movement, especially the closing off of access to Jerusalem to West Bank and Gaza residents.
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32.

“Land Grab: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank,” p. 14.

The full text of the Mitchell report (completed on 30 April 2001; published 20 May 2001) is available on the Churches for Middle East Peace web site, <http://www.cmep.org/documents/MitchellReport.htm>, (18 February 2003).

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Today, over 90% of West Bank and Gaza Palestinians want fundamental reform of the Palestinian Authority. On a wide range of questions there is an overwhelming consensus: 95% want not only new elections as soon as possible but a guarantee of periodic elections; 82% want the head of state elected for a limited term; 95% believe reform should include dismissal of cabinet ministers; 85% support full freedom to form political parties; 82% want freedom of the press without state censorship; 78% believe the judiciary must be independent of the executive branch of government; 92% support adoption of a basic law or constitution.33 There is, in sum, broad public support for the democratization of Palestinian politics and establishment of the rule of law. There are a number of obstacles, some of them obvious, to realizing the popular will for Palestinian democracy and the rule of law. As long as Israel imposes siege, round-the-clock curfews and draconian travel restrictions in the West Bank and Gaza, new elections are physically impossible. Under these conditions, political parties cannot meet, campaigns cannot be run, candidates cannot appear, voter registration cannot take place, and polling places cannot be prepared. However, a need to create conditions conducive to holding free and fair elections, including an end to lethal attacks, a period of calm, a lifting of siege conditions, curfews and travel restrictions, would pro_________________________
33.

vide a compelling political rationale for the Palestinian and Israeli actions required in any event to ease the current situation. Preparation for new elections would also provide an ideal opportunity to establish an international presence in the West Bank and Gaza, in the form of election monitors or a peacekeeping force, to provide a measure of security and stability. Another obstacle to moving toward Palestinian democracy and the rule of law is the fear that new elections will result in the victory of “radical” (by which is meant militant Islamic) elements in Palestinian society. This is a fear voiced variously by members of the Palestinian Authority, “liberal” or “secular” Palestinians, and Arab, Israeli, and U.S. government officials. But, while opinion polls indicate Yasser Arafat’s Fatah organization and the Islamic movement today enjoy about equal support, neither group commands a majority. Elections would almost certainly result in the need for a coalition government, assuming that, as Palestinians wish, a parliamentary majority would be required to exercise power in a reformed Palestinian Authority. Any Fatah-Islamic, Fatah-liberal or national unity coalition that might result would be forced by coalition politics to hew to a centrist line. All parties in parliament, moreover, would have to act with a view to the next elections that would be only a few years off, if the popular will is fulfilled. A third obstacle to reform of the Palestinian Authority is the pressure from Israel and the United States for certain specific reforms that, in Palestinian eyes, fall far short of (and may even impede) the thorough democratic reform demanded by Palestinian public opinion. Israeli and U.S. demands for reform have focused on replacing Yasser Arafat, restructuring the security services and strengthening budgetary controls. While a majority of Palestinians support some version of these goals, emphasizing them instead of emphasizing such things as periodic elections, con-

Press Release, Poll Conducted 15-18 May 2002, Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

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stitutional government, and separation of powers leads many to conclude that “reform” simply means a Palestinian Authority with a foreign-picked leadership and a more repressive security apparatus. Such a reformed PA might be less corrupt than the present, but less representative of the popular will. Thus, “reform” is discredited and the possibility of real reform recedes. The way to overcome this obstacle is simple, but of fundamental importance: outside support for reform needs to focus on helping Palestinians forge the institutions and mechanisms of genuine self-government, not on setting up a second, more efficient authoritarian regime to replace the one that has failed. An excellent blueprint for Palestinian reform was prepared by a task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations in 1999. The task force was chaired by former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard, and included former British Foreign Minster Douglas Hurd, former German Foreign Minister Han-Dietrich Gencher and the former chair of the U.S. House Committee on International Relations, Congressman Lee Hamilton. The task force report, “Strengthening Palestinian Public Institutions” was authored by two Palestinian academics in consultation with a group of Palestinian and international experts. The report’s recommendations (see accompanying box) in essence mirror the Palestinian popular demand for democratization and establishment of the rule of law.34 When the report was released in the spring of 1999, it raised hopes among many Palestinians that its implementation would become European and, especially, U.S. policy toward the Palestinian Authority. These hopes were quickly disappointed by subsequent events.
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Strengthening Palestinian Public Institutions: Main Recommendations of the Rocard Task Force Report
While the Rocard Task Force made more than fifty recommendations for every branch of Palestinian government, the Task Force identified the following seven reforms as “essential steps in the formation of an effective, efficient, and democratic state.” 1) A formal constitution or Basic Law set[ting] forth the fundamental principles underlying the establishment, functions, separation, autonomy, and accountability of the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of government. 2) A leaner office of the presidency, transferring routine administrative and operational tasks to other offices . . . 3) A more effective Legislative Council . . . exercis[ing] enforceable oversight and decision-making authority . . . 4) A more independent judicial system, supervised by an autonomous Supreme Judicial Council [to] enforce the rule of law . . . 5) More transparent, accountable, and unified financial operations . . . 6) A leaner public administration with significantly reduced personnel, meritocratic recruitment criteria, and a simpler organizational structure . . . 7) A civilian-controlled police force . . . subject to . . . oversight by the Legislative Council as well as the appropriate ministries . . .

The full text of the Rocard report, June 1999, is available on the Council on Foreign Relations web site, <http://www.cfr.org> (click on <publications>, <task force reports>, <1999>), (12 February 2003).

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The Way Ahead
An unequivocal freeze on Israeli settlements and genuine democratic reform of the Palestinian Authority are the two inescapable requirements for ending the current violence and restarting peace negotiations. The failure to achieve a settlement freeze and the failure to create a democratic Palestinian polity were at the heart of Oslo’s failure. Progress toward Israeli-Palestinian peace is almost impossible to conceive without reversing these past failures. Both are powerful elements in the system that drives Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The settlements fuel Palestinian anger and convince many that peace is impossible. Violence is the result. An authoritarian Palestinian regime (whether the present one or a more efficient but equally undemocratic “reformed” one) cannot retain the trust of its own people. Neither, in the end, can it gain the trust of Israelis, a major prerequisite for peace. Such a regime is powerless to mobilize Palestinians and build a consensus for peace and it is powerless to influence Israelis to relinquish the disproportionate share of land and other resources they now control to reach an equitable Israeli-Palestinian agreement. Friends and other concerned citizens can encourage constructive change first by informing themselves and then others about the activities of Israeli and Palestinian groups that are working for an equitable peace and democratic reform. The Israeli voices calling for an end to the settlements and the Palestinian voices demanding genuine reform deserve a much wider hearing in the U.S. than they have received. Most importantly, U.S. policymakers in Congress and the Administration need to be urged to take action to halt Israel’s continuing settlement activities and to support fundamental reform of the Palestinian authority. Friends should call to the attention of policy-makers such documents as the B’Tselem settlement report or the Council on Foreign Relations report on Palestinian reform.

Policymakers should be asked to ensure that U.S. aid to Israel and the Palestinians be used to promote peace, not exacerbate conflict. Aid to Israel should be conditioned on Israel’s enforcing a freeze on its settlements. Aid to the Palestinians should be crafted to create strong incentives for thoroughgoing reforms of the Palestinian Authority, strengthening of its civil society organizations, and enhancing Palestinian capacities to meet urgent humanitarian needs created by the occupation closures and curfews. U.S. resources and influence should be used to help reduce the lethality of the conflict and to return Israel and Palestine to a problem solving process at the negotiating table. To that end, U.S. military assistance should not be used to arm one party to this conflict against the other. On the contrary, U.S. military assistance should be withheld from Israel until, at least, Israel agrees to end its occupation of Palestinian territory by a date certain.

Preventing “Transfer”
There are growing fears that all efforts to halt the settlements or reform the Palestinian Authority and restart peace talks could be made irrelevant by a new catastrophic event comparable to Palestinian losses in 1948. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has for decades promoted the slogan “Jordan is Palestine,” arguing that a Palestinian state should replace Jordan and that West Bank/Gaza Palestinians who want a state should go to live there.35 A group of ninety-eight Israeli academicians, concerned about the possible actions of the a government headed by Mr. Sharon, the growing number of officials who openly call for the “transfer” of Palestinians, and opinion polls showing substantial support for the idea, recently issued a statement opposing transfer. Their statement says “The Israeli government may be contemplating crimes against humanity. . .We are deeply worried by indications that the ‘fog of war’ [created by a U.S. attack on
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35.

“Could this happen again? – Rightwing Israelis are talking about ‘transfer’ – the expulsion of all Arabs,” The Guardian, 3 October 2002, p. 8.

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Iraq] could be exploited by the Israeli government to commit further crimes against the Palestinian people, up to full-fledged ethnic cleansing.”36 Last June, an international Quaker delegation traveling in the region heard many similar expressions of concern from Palestinians and Israelis.37 Some noted that a “silent transfer” had already begun, with families leaving the West Bank and Gaza as the economy collapsed under the weight of the closures and curfews.38 Jordanian authorities estimate that as many as 200,000 Palestinians have entered Jordan and not returned to the West Bank and Gaza since September 2000.39 In September, Henry Siegman, a former executive director of the American Jewish Congress and Middle East fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote that a deepening Israeli hold on the West Bank and Gaza “can only lead to the expulsion of most Palestinians and the permanent subjugation of those
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36.

who remain.”40 Former Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meron Benvenisti urged in August that “Anyone who regards such ethnic cleansing as a horrible crime must raise their voice now, without any of the ‘ifs, ands or buts’ so typical of the response to the punishment [of “...curfews, closures, assassinations, house demolitions, expulsions, annulment of Israeli citizenship and denials of legal defense...”] already being meted out in ever more strict steps.” The Americans, Benvenisti added, “should also be warned that an assault on Iraq could unleash ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Nobody should be allowed to say they weren’t warned.”41 This is a crucial issue where timely expressions of concern could be decisive. In addition to calling for a settlement freeze and reform of the Palestinian Authority, Friends and other advocates for just peace should urge the U.S. government to issue a public warning against the expulsion of West Bank/Gaza Palestinians during a war against Iraq or at any other time.
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40.

The text of the statement may be found at <http://www.indymedia.org.il/imc/israel/webcast/37938.html> “Prevent mass expulsion of Palestinians under cover of war with Iraq,” American Friends Service Committee, 11 October 2002, <http://www.afsc.org/news/2002/stisrael.htm>, (20 February 2003). Danny Rubinstein, “The tangible fear of transfer,” Ha’aretz Online English Edition, 28 October 2002, <http://www.haaretz.co.il>, (available in the archive, 13 February 2002). “Sharon Embarks on Ethnic Cleansing,” Jane’s Foreign Report, 24 October 2002.

37.

Henry Siegman, “Sharon’s real purpose is to create foreigners,” International Herald Tribune, 25 September 2002, <http://www.iht.com/ihtsearch.php?id=71634&owner=(IH T)&date=20030110030435>, (20 February 2003). Meron Benvenisti, “Preemptive warnings of fantastic scenarios,” Haaretz Online English Edition, 15 August 2002, <http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/objects/pages/Print ArticleEn.jhtml?itemNo=197827>, 20 February 2003. A similar warning was offered by Ami Ayalon, former head of Shin Bet, the Israeli security organization, who is quoted by Danny Rubinstein as saying “If the U.S. attacks Iraq and during that attack there is a mega-terrorist incident in Israel, then Ariel Sharon could exploit the outbreak of rage in the Israeli public to conduct mass transfer of Palestinians.” (Rubinstein, “The tangible fear of transfer.”)

41.

38.

39.

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Resources
There are many good sources of information and resources for promoting peace available on the Internet. Some of the most useful are noted below. Links on these sites and a web search for Israeli and Palestinian materials will lead to others.

U.S. Organizations Working for Middle East Peace
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Middle East Peacebuilding Program AFSC 1501 Cherry Street Philadelphia, PA 19102 phone: 215-241-7000 fax: 215-241-7275 email: afscinfo@afsc.org <www.afsc.org/ispal/Default.htm> Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) 110 Maryland Avenue, NE, #311 Washington, DC 20002 phone: 202-543-1222 fax: 202-543-5025 email: cmepdc@aol.com <www.cmep.org> Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) 1761 N Street, NW Washington, DC 20036 phone: 202-835-3650 fax: 202-835-3651 email: info@fmep.org <www.fmep.org> Friends United Meeting (FUM), World Ministries: Ramallah Friends Schools FUM 101 Quaker Hill Drive Richmond, Indiana, 47374 phone: 765-962-7573 fax: 765-966-1293 email: info@fum.org <www.fum.org/worldmissions/ramallah.html>

Israeli and Palestinian News Sources and Peace Resources
Ha’aretz Online English Edition <www.haaretzdaily.com/> Ha’aretz is Israel’s leading Hebrew language newspaper. The online English edition generally includes translations of all of the articles appearing in the Hebrew language daily. News reports and commentaries by Ze’ev Schiff, Dani Rubinstein, and Amira Hass provide exceptional insights on Israeli-Palestinian affairs. Ha’aretz also includes a broad array of op-ed pieces by Israelis from left to right on the political spectrum. Jerusalem Media & Communication Centre <www.jmcc.org/> The JMCC was established in 1988 by a group of Palestinian journalists and researchers to provide information on events in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. The Centre provides reports on important developments in Palestinian politics on its web site and offers a more indepth email news service by subscription. Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research <www.pcpsr.org/> The PCPSR regularly conducts reliable surveys of Palestinian public opinion in the West Bank and Gaza. B’Tselem <www.btselem.org/> B’Tselem, the Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, was established in 1989 by a group of prominent academics, attorneys, journalists, and Knesset members. Its mission is “to document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights violations in the Occupied Territories . . . and help create a human rights culture in Israel.”

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MIFTAH <www.miftah.org/> MIFTAH, the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy, was established in 1998. MIFTAH describes itself as a “non-governmental, non-partisan, Jerusalem-based institution dedicated to fostering democracy and good governance within the Palestinian Society in a manner that promotes Public Accountability and Transparency while maintaining the free flow of information and ideas.” MIFTAH is headed by Palestinian Legislative Council member and former cabinet minister Hanan Ashrawi. Peace Now <www.peacenow.org.il/English.asp> Peace Now was founded in 1978 by 348 reserve officers and soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces. Peace Now describes itself as “the first and only mass peace movement in Israel . . . attracting hundreds of thousands to its mass rallies and activities.”

Gush Shalom <www.gush-shalom.org/english/index.html> Gush Shalom, headed by journalist and former Knesset member Uri Avneri, describes itself as “the hard core of the peace movement” in Israel that has “played a leading role in determining the moral and political agenda of the peace forces in Israel, as well as in breaking the so-called ‘national consensus’ based on misinformation.” bitterlemons <www.bitterlemons.org/> Bitterlemons.org is a website that presents Israeli and Palestinian viewpoints on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and other regional issues. It is produced and edited by Ghassan Khatib, Minister of Labor in the Palestinian Authority, and Yossi Alpher, a former senior Israeli intelligence official and Director of the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. Its goal is to contribute to mutual understanding through the open exchange of ideas. It aspires to impact the way Palestinians, Israelis, and others worldwide think about regional issues.

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