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Alternative peace initiative comes under fire for 'normalization'

Pressure from both Palestinian activists and right-wing Israelis has put the spotlight on a conference that will present a new model for peace and coexistence. That is, if it ever happens in the first place.

Palestinians demonstrate against Israeli-Palestinian normalization, Nablus, West Bank, January 12, 2014. On Thursday January 9, 2014, Palestinian activists tried to prevent a meeting of the organization Minds of Peace in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (photo: Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinians demonstrate against Israeli-Palestinian normalization, Nablus, West Bank, January 12, 2014. On Thursday January 9, 2014, Palestinian activists tried to prevent a meeting of the organization Minds of Peace in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (photo: Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

A launch event for an alternative Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative, slated to take place next week in the West Bank, is on the receiving harsh criticism from both Palestinian activists and right-wing Israelis.

The initiative, titled “Two States, One Homeland,” was founded by veteran Israeli journalist Meron Rapoport and Palestinian political activist Awni al-Mashni. The initiative began when Rapoport and al-Mashni, who sat in an Israeli prison for 12 years and writes regularly for Palestinian media outlets, started a discussion group that included Palestinians and Israelis from both the occupied territories and Israel who were interested in talking about a new confederation-based model as a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The founders attempted to diversify the group by including settlers, ultra-Orthodox and those who live in the periphery.

The event, which is supposed to take place at a hotel on the outskirts of Beit Jala, has come up against pressure by Palestinian activists on the hotel owners to cancel the event. The activists have announced that should it take place, they will protest the conference at the entrance to the hotel and will nonviolently attempt to prevent participants from entering.

In the wake of the pressure, both Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh and high-ranking PLO member and former PA minister Qadura Fares backed out of the event. Meanwhile, members of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community are pressuring prominent Shas member Adina Bar-Shalom and veteran Haredi journalist Rabbi Moshe Grileck to cancel their appearances.

Hades MK Ayman Odeh takes part in the 18th annual March of Return, Hadatha, Lower Galilee, April 23, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hades MK Ayman Odeh takes part in the 18th annual March of Return, Hadatha, Lower Galilee, April 23, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A document published by the Two States, One Homeland group lays out its new model: dividing the land into two states, while maintaining open borders, freedom of movement for all and recognizing that the country is the homeland of two nations. According to the initiative, a solution to the conflict would allow settlers to remain residents — but not citizens — of the new Palestinian state, while Palestinian refugees could live in Israel, but only as citizens of Palestine.

Jerusalem, on the other hand, will function as the capital of both states via a joint municipality, and the two states will cooperate on issues of security, as well as prevention of violence and terrorism. Militias from both communities will disarm, and the two states will answer to a joint-human rights court.

The initiative is described on the group’s website as a basis for reconciliation rooted in the recognition of the deep historical, religious and cultural connection that both nations have for the same land, Israel-Palestine, and that in the current reality, the two proposed solutions — two separate states or one state — lead to a dead end.

Legitimizing settlements

The conference, which was set to mark the 48th year of the Israeli occupation, is scheduled to take place at the Everest Hotel in Beit Jala. Located near the tunnels checkpoint that leads to Bethlehem, the event will allow both Palestinians from the occupied territories and Israeli citizens to attend. Along with the founders, Odeh and Bar-Shalom were among those who were supposed to deliver speeches. The guest list included both Fares and Grileck; the widow of Rabbi Menachem Fruman, Hadas Fruman; Ben-Gurion Univeristy Professor Oren Yiftachel; former member of the PA security agency Munir al-Abushi; Meretz activist Avi Dabush; and Dr. Thabet Abu Rass from The Abraham Fund among others.

Read: Are Israelis ready for a confederated two-state solution?

Last Thursday, however, a news item published on the News1 website [Hebrew] described Bar-Shalom’s participation as a direct expression of the leftist views of Shas leader Aryeh Deri. Since then, a great deal of pressure has been put on Bar-Shalom and Grileck by members of the right-wing ultra-Orthodox community, calling on them to back out of the event. Neither Bar-Shalom nor Grileck could be reached for comment.

Just two days later, the Popular Struggle Coordination Committees — the body responsible for organizing the popular struggle committees, which are in charge of organizing actions against the separation wall and the settlements across the West Bank — opened a Facebook event in which they announced their opposition to the event, as it constitutes a form of “normalization” with the occupation. The post specifically noted that the event legitimizes West Bank settlements.

Settlement of Halamish, next to Nabi Saleh (Activestills)

Settlement of Halamish, next to Nabi Saleh (Activestills)

“We believe that peace initiatives must be promoted solely on the basis of agreed-upon principles, which include two states, an end to violations of Palestinian human rights, dismantling settlements and the right of return,” says Mahmoud Zuwara, a member of the popular struggle committee from the village Al-Ma’asara, near Bethlehem. “We do not need new initiatives that will replace international law. We feel that these initiatives are meant to show the nice face of Israel, in an attempt to evade international pressure. They even have settlers in the group, as if to show that they too support the ‘peace plans.’

“I am in contact with hundreds of Israelis, and very much support our cooperation with them. But the way to do this is through a joint effort, through a joint popular struggle. Israelis need to work out in the open, under the sun, against the crimes of the army and the settlers, and not hide inside a hotel around tables and speak nicely about another initiative that will most likely eventually disappear like all the others. Only those who are active together can do politics together. As for the Palestinian side, it is true that some of the speakers are Fatah officials, but I do not believe that they truly represent the position of their movement.”

‘The opposite of normalization’

Since the opening of the Facebook event, Palestinian activists have been putting pressure on the hotel to cancel the event. In the days that followed, Qadura Fares announced that he would not take part in the conference. In an interview with +972, Qadure admitted that he was not even sure how his name ended up on the list of participants. “The organizers did not act properly. They presented this initiative to me once, I said that the reality is very far from making this kind of dream come true, and that I still support the old two-state initiative. I am not part of the group, and although I am not very opposed to what they are doing, it is unclear why they are using my name.”

Following Fares, Ayman Odeh announced his cancellation on Wednesday. While I could not get a response from the Joint List chairman, several sources from his Hadash party (which makes up the Joint List, along with three other Arab parties) said that Odeh was unaware that the conference was a launch event for a new political movement, and that Hadash has yet to determine its stance vis-a-vis the new group.

In the wake of the cancellations and the public pressure, participants are re-thinking the conference, as well as where it will take place. A statement sent out to the press on Wednesday curiously left out the location of the event.

“We are currently moving forward, even if we do not know exactly where the conference will take place,” tells me Rapoport. “As for Fatah, I can say — not in their name — that the approval for this event comes from the highest-ranking officials. As for the settlements, it is true that we talk about freedom of movement in the entire region, for both Jews and Palestinians, as well as for both settlers and refugees. The vision is freedom to live anywhere in the country. This is something Arafat himself talked about, so I do not see an issue here. Furthermore, not a single peace deal has spoken this way about the right of return.”

In response to Fares’ comments, Rapoport says that he was only meant to be a guest, and that no one ever claimed he was a founding member.

“I do not know what we will decide tomorrow or the next day, but for now we are continuing,” adds al-Mashni. “We will meet with the anti-normalization and the BDS groups, but we must make clear that the conference is not normalization, since at its core lies the end of the occupation, and normalization is making peace while maintaining occupation. This is the exact opposite.”

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    1. Ginger Eis


      “A document published by the Two States, One Homeland group lays out its new model: dividing the land into two states, while maintaining open borders, freedom of movement for all and recognizing that the country is the homeland of two nations.”

      Oh, yeah! (a) two States, (b) ONE homeland, (c) ONE county, (d) open borders, (e) two nations.

      a + b + c + d + e = Abracadabra = PEACE! That makes sense, don’t you see?

      Reply to Comment
      • Weiss

        When it comes to peace, you are always confused.

        Thie direct result of drinking Fascist Kool-Aid….

        Reply to Comment
        • BigCat

          Weiss, you are always shouting and barking at everyone blurting out the same mumbo jumbo over and over again and never having anything new and substantive to say. Do you ever wonder why no one responds to anything you blurt out, or are you too dumb and stoned with alcohol to notice?

          Reply to Comment
          • phil

            Well, you just responded BigCatGustav

            Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            Apparently, this ugly terrorist called “Phil” who on this site has explicitly supported running Israelis over with cars and buses crushing them to death also has no idea of what a “response” means. Now I understand why he and his fellow haters shout and bark, while at the same time thinking that they are responding to something and that they are being responded to when it is pointed out to them that they are shouting and barking. There is no shortage of haters/terrorists supporters from foreign countries coming here to tell us that they are in fact morons. Oh dear…..

            Reply to Comment
          • phil

            Poor old Gustav



            noun: response; plural noun: responses

            1. a verbal or written answer.


            verb: respond; 3rd person present: responds; past tense: responded; past participle: responded; gerund or present participle: responding

            1. say something in reply.

            Reply to Comment
          • phil

            And Gustav, please provide a link to the thread where I explicitly supported that which you accuse me of..

            Of course you won’t because I never did and therefore it does not exist

            Oh dear

            Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            Ha, so now, its about my typos and so…., huh? Hilarious. Anyways, I am neither surprised that you are getting nervous and swinging chaotically in all directions, nor do I expect a moron like you to quickly differentiate between Gustav and myself. I will let Gustav speak for himself – if he finds your idiocy worth responding to.

            With regard to my claim that you are a terrorist who supports running Israelis over with cars and buses crushing them to death, here is the link you asked for:



            Thursday, November 6, 2014

            The second attack clearly targeted occupation forces only..
            as such it is a legitimate act of resistance against an occupying military force”.

            That’s exactly as HAMAS says. That’s the ideology of ISIS & Co! Now, go ahead and tell us that Israeli soldiers and/or border policemen and women aren’t Israelis, because they are in uniform. Go ahead and say that, you ugly racist!

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav


            In case you have noticed, you have been communicating with Bigcat. This is my first post here.

            Get a grip on reality. Or are you yet another reincarnation of Brian/Ben/MuslimJew and you are playing your usual brain dead games?

            Reply to Comment
    2. Ginger Eis

      Basic Natural Equation:

      a. Palestinians and Jordanians = SAME ethnic group;
      b. Palestinians and Jordanians = SAME language;
      c. Palestinians and Jordanians = SAME culture;
      d. Palestinians and Jordanians = SAME tradition;
      e. Palestinians and Jordanians = SAME religion;
      f. Palestinians and Jordanians = SAME customs;
      g. Palestinians and Jordanians = SAME law;
      h. Palestinians and Jordanians = SAME nationality;
      i. Palestinians and Jordanians = SAME EVERYTHING!

      THE SOLUTION: Palestinians and Jordanians = ONE People, ONE Nation and ONE Country = PEACE.

      Let Nature run its course, dammit!

      Reply to Comment
      • Yeah, Right

        GE: “THE SOLUTION: Palestinians and Jordanians = ONE People, ONE Nation and ONE Country = PEACE.”

        Gosh, so nice of you to decide on their behalf.

        After all, by your own insistence you are the outsider in that group, yet you have the nerve to tell *them* how they should think.

        GE: “Let Nature run its course, dammit!”

        Except that’s not “nature taking its course”, is it?

        That’s an outsider (i.e. you, channelling the Zionist wet-dream) imposing a “solution” on them from the outside.

        And I’m (slightly, oh so slightly) curious: what is the fate of the West Bank in your wet-dream?

        Does it go to “PaliJordan” since – obviously – there are far more of the “bretheren” there than there are Zionist colonists?

        Or does Israel take it while “helping” nature to take its course via the Palestinians trekking over the Allenby Bridge to Jordan?

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          The basic algebraic formula consists of two parts: (a) ‘the equation’ and (b) ‘the solution’ – as in: y = x + ab. You understand that, don’t you, YeahRight? Ok then, let’s proceed:

          To understand my post, you have to ‘think math’. In my post I put forward: (a) “the basic natural equation” and (b) “the solution”. “The solution” is the necessary result of “the basic natural equation” and, as such, NOT my “decision” as you wrongly assumed. Obviously you don’t agree with the laws of Natural Science and the results thereof. But surely, YeahRight, you do agree with me that your argument then must be with Nature, NOT with me, yes? Goooood, good, good, YeahRight! Now go debate with Nature and buzz off my face.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            YR is quite correct. Your silly equation could be solved parsimoniously by extending Jordanian sovereignty to all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem. In that solution, it follows that the Jewish settlements become, to combine that socio-oncologist Miri Regev’s logic with your natural law logic, a cancer in the body. You pronounced a silly bunch of sociocultural equivalences you made up. About “a people.” Then you said, and insist upon with a snarl, this being an example of “nature’s” iron determinism. And you promulgate a basic “law” of nature that wraps it all up. That makes you a crackpot running around squawking a kind of bogus deterministic racial theory.

            Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            Ha! Brian alias “Ben” alias “MuslimJew” is getting excited again at the sight of Ginger and talking gibberish yet again. Clearly “Ben” is math-challenged as is evidenced in his hysterical mumbo jumbo. Ginger made a counter argument to the article and listed in points ‘a’ to ‘i’ a number of variables/constants and concluded based on that, that the “Palestinians” and the Jordanians are “One People”, “One Nation” and “One Country”. I am certain neither the article nor Ginger was making territorial arguments. Apparently that simple math is too difficult for this psychotic moron “Brian/Ben/MuslimJew” to understand.

            Btw, Benny,

            You made this claim: “I correctly outed “Viktor Arajs”, here: http://972mag.com/expulsion-or-not-palestinians-can-declare-victory-at-fifa/107177/, where Gustav demonstratively demolished you.

            Question to you, Benny:

            What is the basis for your claim? The thread where you “correctly outed Viktor Arajs” as you claimed must be on this site! So, can you post the link so that we can see and read for ourselves when and how you did that, unless you are again afraid of being exposed yet again as a liar and a fraud, you psychotic moron.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            I was responding to Eis not you BigCat/Gustav.

            Suddenly a lot of nonsense is much clearer to me! I’m indebted to Phil for the insight. I’m too naive about these things.

            Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            Oooh….ooh, “Ben” alias “MuslimJew” alias, etc. is on the run – yet again – running away in defeat and fear, retreating quickly with his tail between his legs talking some gibberish about “BigCat/Gustav” – obviously looking for an excuse to wiggle out of impending doom!

            The link, moron, the link. Pls. provide the link!

            Or, are you afraid of something – i.e. the impending doom, “Ben”?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            I see that “Gustav’s” prowess in “demolishing” people is VERY important to you “BigCat.” LoL!

            Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            The link, moron, the link. Pls. provide the link!

            Or, are you afraid of something – i.e. the impending doom, and looking for an excuse to wiggle out of it, Brian….eh….“Ben” alias ”MuslimJew”?

            Provide the link which is on this site!

            We are waiting……

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            The link moron the liiiiinnkkk!!! Aaaauuuugghh!!!

            LoL! Please see a doctor, Gustav.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Poor old Benny. I must have traumatized you so much that you see Gustavs even in your dreams.

            I am your worst nightmare, aren’t I? Good!

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            LoL! Some people have nightmares about clowns but I don’t Gustav/BigCat.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            No, not much Benny, dear.

            You were talking with Bigccat but you addressed your post to “Gustav”. It seems, I have embedded myself in your psyche. Good job, Benny dear. I am your worst nightmare. Poor old Benny.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Poor old Benny, let’s not quibble. You are having nightmares about me because I expose your fraudulent claims at every turn. For instance, in here…


            This is what you said:

            BEN:”the agreement that is aimed for and could and would be worked out would be a mutually agreed on compromise and not the 4 million scenario he paints.”

            The context was my statement that Abbas insists on the right of return of up to 4 million Palestinians. That is why he has not signed a peace deal with Israel. Because Israel cannot agree to such suicidal terms which is also a corner stone in the much vaunted “Arab peace initiative”. You, Benny dear are trying to say that your Arab friends are ready to compromise on that…

            But the reality is completely different, as I proved to you on that thread even though you tried to negate my proof by providing a link to an article by Ami Kaufman. But even your own link PROVED what I SAID….

            Here it is again. Here is what I said…

            GUSTAV:”Oh dear. I read Kaufman’s article. He tells the story EXACTLY as I told it. Our facts match.
            Yes, Israel DID offer to allow the refugees into the West Bank.

            Yes, Israel made it’s offer conditional on those refugees signing away their so called right of return which is not really their right unless Israel would agree to their return. Nevertheless it would improve our position in any future negotiations…

            And yes, Abbas DID reject such a condition.

            Sure, my take and Kaufman’s take on these facts are different but we DO agree on the facts.

            But one thing I cannot understand. I cannot understand why our little Benny does not concede the point that I made…

            … that this shows that Abbas is not willing to give up the so called right of return of up to 4 million descendants of Palestinian refugees…

            … for chrissake! The refugees in Syria face death at the hand of ISIS but even that does not daunt Abbas from giveng up the so called right of return in order to save them. But in his negotiations with Israel he would? Poppy-cock Benny. He hasn’t got it in him!”

            That stumped you, Benny dear. All you could do is ignore, divert and obfuscate…

            You can run, Benny dear, but you can’t hide. Your claim was fraudulent and I exposed your fraud. You just hate that, don’t you Benny?!

            Reply to Comment
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