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Israel-Palestine Conflict after the U.S. Elections

Israel-Palestine Conflict after the U.S. Elections

By Sonia Nettnin

The Director of Education and Policy of Jewish Voice for Peace, Mitchell Plitnick, spoke to a group of concerned Illinois citizens at the Oak Park Public Library on Wednesday night.

The organization advocates a just and sustainable peace for Israelis and Palestinians. The Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine sponsored Plitnick’s lecture.

Plitnick emphasized that the day-to-day violence is different for people on both sides. Palestinians suffer from constant humiliation and interference in their lives; and Israelis live in fear of suicide bombings. However, “there is a clear distinction between the occupier and the occupied,” he added.

Plitnick talked about the devastated economy in Gaza and how it impacts the people. The recent talks of withdrawal from Gaza do not end the occupation because the negative effects of the occupation will still be there.

With regards to Palestinian elections, Israel made it clear they will not allow the United Nations to oversee them. With the recent passing of Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat, the challenge for Palestinians is reorganizing the Palestinian Authority. Pflitnick added that the passing of Arafat changes the script of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who labeled Arafat a rejecter of peace.

Plitnick expressed that the impact of U.S. elections on the Israel-Palestine conflict is negligible. “There is no difference between John Kerry and George Bush,” he said. Now that Bush is re-elected, the question is: will there be a cabinet change?

With regards to road-map-negotiations, President George W. Bush exchanged letters with Sharon in April 2002. The heart of their correspondence was about the 22 per cent of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem – along with the Palestinian right-of-return (Al-Awda).

“I really want to stress the importance of Bush’ letter to Sharon because it removed these negotiations from the table,” Plitnick said. Yet, the Palestinian peoples’ right of return to their homeland is non-negotiable within Palestinian nationalism.

With the deterioration of the Palestinian economy, these epistolary agreements make the picture bleak. According to the Palestine Monitor, at least 70 per cent of the Palestinian people live on less than two dollars per day. If Americans come together and advocate a reasonable solution to this conflict, then there can be a positive future for both sides. The concern must be equal for both peoples.

“It’s not for us to decide the parameters of their lives,” he said. “It’s our job to get our government out of the way.”

Plitnick said the Jewish people are not going to survive as occupiers. Moreover, non-Jewish people who work for a just peace to this conflict are not anti-Semitic. He said their work is in the long-term interests of Jews around the world. “Jews can come together with Christians and Muslims and say that this (occupation) is bad,” he added.

Peace is in the interests of Israelis and Palestinians if everyone’s needs are met -- the Israelis and the Palestinians need a reasonable hope for the next day.


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