Menu JTA Search

Palestinians and Israelis Convene in California, Issue Peace Blueprint

Ten Palestinians and Israelis who met privately in the Santa Cruz Mountains last week emerged with a document they hope will serve as a model peace treaty for the Middle East.

Titled “Framework for a Public Peace Process,” it envisages Israel and an independent Palestinian state existing peacefully side by side.

The Palestinian state would be partially demilitarized, and the two would share united Jerusalem as their capital.

None of the Israeli participants has any official status, but at least one Palestinian ranks high in the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The group, which included East Jerusalem newspaper editor Hanna Siniora and Hebrew University Professor Moshe Maoz, was brought together by the Stanford. University. Center on Conflict and Negotiation and the Beyond War Foundation.

Harold Saunders, an assistant secretary of state in the Carter administration who was involved in the Camp David talks, served as an adviser to the participants.

One of them, Nabil Shaath, is an adviser to PLO chief Yasir Arafat and a representative of the Palestine National Council, the PLO’s quasilegislative body.

According to Beyond War spokeswoman Judy Kramer, Shaath was authorized by the PLO to accept the new document as a basis for a future peace discussions.

But it was firmly dismissed by the Israeli consul general here, Harry Kney-Tal, who thought it was “not that unusual” a tract to emanate from “the political wing of the PLO and private Israelis who believe they are taking the high ground in terms of Jewish ethics and morality.”

He faulted the document for putting the entire burden of concessions on Israel, while the “Arabs are only on the receiving end.

“There’s not even one line that addresses the possibility they also have to make a contribution and maybe bear responsibility for the intractable Arab-Israeli conflict,” the Israeli diplomat said.

A ROLE FOR PRIVATE CITIZENS

But Moshe Amirav, a member of the Jerusalem City Council and former member of the Likud Central Committee, was enthusiastic. “I believe this document, maybe the exact document, will be the basis of the peace agreement,” he said.

Shaath said current peace efforts by U.S. Secretary of State James Baker should be encouraged, but “until there is a government in Israel that is willing to sit down and have a dialogue,” the only partner is “the people who are here today.”

Acknowledging that they have no negotiating power, the participants nevertheless argued that private citizens have a vital role to play in the peace process.

“Citizens play just as much a role as their governments, which cannot do the whole job themselves,” Saunders agreed.

He said the current peace efforts “will not be able to stay the course unless there is support from the body politic, from like-minded people who believe it is time to move to peace.”

Galit Hasan-Rokem, literature and folklore professor at Hebrew University and a founding member of the Women’s Network for Peace in Israel, said, “The authentic voices of a culture are not necessarily those of the government. The words of the prophets endured in Israel, not the words of the kings.”

Professor Maoz, an expert on Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, said, “We have to give credit to the peace process going on now between governments, but the people in Israel are ahead of the government in pragmatism.”

Oded Megiddo, a lieutenant-colonel in the Israel Defense Force, sounded a similar note. “The Jewish community in the United States should always support Israel but learn to distinguish between the government of Israel and the people of Israel,” he said.

Except for the Friday night signing, the seminar was closed to the public for security reasons. The State Department and the Israeli Consulate were informed in advance of the event.

NEXT STORY