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An Urgent Statement to the Israeli Public by a Group of Palestinian Academics and Activists
In February of this year [2000], we, a group of Palestinian academics and activists, addressed an urgent call to the Israeli public in which we expressed our fear that the Oslo peace process, as it had evolved, was inevitably leading to further conflict rather than to a final, historic reconciliation that would enable our two peoples to live in peace and human dignity.
We explained that the Oslo Accords have been used by Israel to create unprecedented expansion of settlements, to almost double the settler population, and to continue the expropriation of Palestinian land. Freedom of movement for Palestinians has been severely curtailed, while violence against our communities continues without restraint. Amidst this, the Palestinian population has had no physical, legal or political means of protection. While military occupation affects us every day, it has been disguised under Oslo in ways that negate international law and the protection it might afford. We now live in a series of small, disconnected areas that are being posited as the emerging Palestinian state. The only way to expand these Bantustans, according to the distorted logic of the negotiations, is for the Palestinian leadership to make concessions which would legitimize a number of Israeli demands in contravention of international law: to concede our national rights to East Jerusalem, allow settlements to remain in occupied territory and renounce the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
The Israeli leadership (be it Likud or Labor) has continued to imagine that, given the massive military balance of force in its favor, it would be able to impose on the Palestinian Authority its unjust vision of a final settlement. This delusion, that a deeply unjust agreement can be made by Israel with President Yasser Arafat alone, who is then expected to force his people into accepting it, has inevitably led to the critical situation that confronts us now.
The escalating use of Israel's overwhelming military power in order to crush the current uprising and terrify the Palestinian population into submission shows a dangerous, willful refusal to address its underlying causes. Military might may be able to subdue the current wave of protest - at the immediate cost of many more lives. But in the long run, it cannot stem the will of a people seeking their just and rightful place in the world. It will also condemn us to revisit the current crisis again and again.
All of us are firm believers in an equitable and just negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but, like our communities, have lost hope in the possibility of resolving the current inequities in the framework of the Oslo agreements and the exclusive American "brokerage" of the process. We believe that an equitable basis for peace must necessarily take the following principles as a point of departure:
1. Negotiations must be based on the principles that all the lands occupied by Israel in 1967 are, in fact, occupied territories and that peace will only be achieved by ending the occupation of these territories, thus enabling Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination and sovereignty.
2. A final settlement must include Palestinian sovereignty over the 1967 occupied territory of East Jerusalem and the commitment to Jerusalem as the recognized capital of two states.
3. Israel's recognition of its responsibility in the creation of the Palestinian refugees in 1948 is a prerequisite to finding a just and lasting resolution of the refugee problem in accordance with relevant UN resolutions.
4. Both sides must recognize the spiritual and historical affinities of each other to sites and locations within their own borders and they must affirm and guarantee the access and protection of the other people to them. But in neither case should the existence of such sites be used to advance extra-territorial claims.
We believe that the implementation of these principles will provide for a just and, therefore, genuine and lasting peace. The hoped-for coexistence between our two peoples can only become possible if a reconstructed peace settlement is equitable. It is our hope that, out of the tragedies of recent weeks, we can find this new and fair vision of peace.

Partial list of over 120 signatures:

Dr. Haidar Abdel-Shafi, head of the Red Crescent Society, Gaza
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member
Ezzat Abdul Hadi, Bisan Development Center
Dr. Rabab Abdul Hadi, American University of Cairo
Ghassan Abdullah, Birzeit University
Prof. Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, Birzeit University
Dr. Lamis Abu Nahleh, Birzeit University
Dr. Mamdouh Aker, surgeon
Mohammad Alagha, journalist, London
Dr. Suad Al-Amiry, Riwaq
Ghassan Al-Khatib, Jerusalem Media and Communication Center
Dr. Helga Al-Kurd-Baumgarten, Birzeit University
Prof. Nasser Aruri, prof. emeritus, University of Massachusetts
Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, Medical Relief Committees
Ibrahim Dakkak, Institute of Palestine Studies
Rabiba Diab, Ministry of Youth and Sports
Dr. Beshara Doumani, Berkeley University, USA
Dr. Sharif Elmusa, American University, Cairo
Dr. Jamil Hilal, writer, Palestine National Council member
Islah Jad, Birzeit University
Dr. Nazmi Ju'beh, Riwaq and Birzeit University
Zahira Kamal, Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation
Prof. Sharif Kanaana, Birzeit University
Eileen Kuttab, Birzeit University
Flora Lahham, journalist, London
Prof. Nur Masalha, SOAS, University of London
Prof. Fuad Mughrabi, University of Tennessee
Zakaria Muhammad, poet and journalist
Dr. Walid Mustafa, Bethlehem University
Dr. Issam Nassar, Institute of Jerusalem Studies
Mamdouh Nofal, writer and member of the Palestinian Central Council
Ramzi Rihan, Birzeit University
Abdel Jawad Saleh, PLC member
Dr. Rosemary Sayigh, researcher and author
Raja Shehadeh, lawyer and writer
Dr. Azmi Shu'aibi, PLC member
Mahmoud Shuqeir, novelist
Prof. Salim Tamari, Institute of Jerusalem Studies
Jamal Zaqout, Palestinian National Council member
Prof. Elia Zureik, Queens University, Canada

November 7, 2000

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