On June 6th, 2006, the Palestine-Israel Journal organized a public
event at the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem in conjunction with the
publication of our issue dealing with the topic of People-to-People
(P2P). The scheduled main speakers were PLO Executive Member Yasser
Abed-Rabbo and Meretz Party head MK Yossi Beilin. Abed Rabbo was
prevented from attending because his permit to travel from Ramallah
to Jerusalem was delayed until after the event was over, and Beilin
remained in the Knesset trying to deal with the problem. Palestine-Israel Journal co-editor Ziad Abu Zayyad
was also prevented from attending because he had not yet received a
renewal of the permit which would enable him to regularly fulfill
responsibilities in the journal's East Jerusalem office.
The large audience included many foreign dignitaries, Archbishop
Michel Sabbah and a number of Palestinians who made a special
effort to come from the West Bank.
The event was opened by PIJ co-editor Hillel Schenker, who said
that there was "no logical reason for Abu Zayyad's absence." Ruba
Aburoqtti of the Austrian Development Cooperation presented a
greeting on behalf of the Austrian and EU supporters of the issue
Daniel Levy, a former advisor to Prime Minister Barak and a central
activist in the Geneva initiative and journalist Elias Zananiri,
director of the Palestinian Peace Coalition spoke on behalf of
Beilin and Abed Rabbo, and PIJ editorial board member Gershon
Baskin served as moderator.
In the discussion, some said that while people-to-people activity
cannot be a substitute for the hard political work that has to be
done, it still can be a very potent antidote to unilateralism. P2P
activities serve as a solution to the dehumanization of the other,
and can provide practical help on the ground. It was generally
agreed that the ultimate goal of P2P activities is to help reach a
lasting and genuine peace in the region.
The PIJ is now involved in a campaign to ensure that the question
of permits will not serve as an obstacle to our work and to future