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Italian Women’s Delegation Urges Better Israeli-palestinian Dialogue

A delegation of Italian women, just back from a fact-finding trip to Israel, says it believes a peaceful settlement to the Palestinian uprising in the administered territories can be found only if both sides engage in urgently needed dialogue.

The group of about 60 women included college professors, psychologists and several parliamentary deputies.

“There is great urgency on the part of both peoples to achieve peace,” said Parliament member Bianca Guidetti Serra.

The Italian participants said that Palestinian women balked at their desire to hold joint seminars with Palestinian and Israeli women.

University instructor Elisabetta Donini said Palestinian women told them, “We live in a situation that is too unequal. The Israelis have a state; we do not.

“We Palestinians are representatives of a people; the Israelis who disagree with the repression are few and not representative of their people.”

Laura Cima, a Green Party member of Parliament, was critical of the Israeli soldiers, who “sharply attacked us with clubs, tear gas and shots from firearms” during a demonstration outside the Dhahiriya prison in the West Bank.

However, another delegate, Labor leader Alessandra Mecozzi, said, “I understand the paranoia of the Israeli soldiers. I noticed in many of them shame and embarrassment.”

The Italian women also demonstrated with the Israeli pacifist group Women in Black.

Participants said they were able to meet informally together with both Palestinian and Israeli women.

Nevertheless, separate final documents were issued from the formal meetings the Italian women held with the Palestinians and Israelis.

Both documents stressed a conviction against violence and repression and the will for peaceful coexistence and mutual respect.

Psychologist Carla Ortona of Turin, the only Jew in the Italian group, said the trip was not an easy experience for her.

“I understand the hatred of the Palestinians toward the Israelis, but this makes me suffer as a Jew,” she said.

“Certainly the State of Israel has the right to make mistakes like other states and to exist all the same, “Ortona continued.

“But the Israeli policy seems to have entered a blind alley. And it’s as a Jew that I feel I must rebel against it.”

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