A Joint Israeli-Palestinian Call for Peace!

    We, Israelis and Palestinians working together for conciliation and peace, remain horrified and pained by the tragic war between our two peoples which is entering its third month.

    Since the vicious Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7, Israeli cities have been subject to almost daily rocket and missile fire from the Strip, and Hezbollah attacks along the northern border have also resulted in fatalities. The lives of the more than 150,000 Israeli displaced as a result of the fighting in the north and south remain unsettled, and there is no certainty regarding if and when they will be able to return home. 

    A pause in the fighting saw the return of less than half of the Israeli hostages in exchange for Palestinian female and child detainees, but close to 140, including women, children, and the elderly, remain in captivity in Gaza as fears for their survival mount. We call upon the international community to help negotiate a renewal of the cease-fire that will enable the release of all the remaining Israeli civilian and military hostages in exchange for all of the Palestinians in Israeli prisons. 

    The Israeli military retaliation is in full swing, and after intensive bombardment of the Gaza Strip from the ground, sea, and air, the Israeli army is now operating inside the cities and refugee camps, causing massive destruction and loss of life. The majority of the Gaza Strip's 2.3 million people have been made homeless as a result of the demolition of entire neighborhoods and the forcible transfer of the population from the north and center of Gaza to the south in an attempt to drive them across the border to the Egyptian side. Over 17,500 have been killed and more than 600 are still missing under the rubble. Food and water are scarce, and fears of the spread of pestilence are growing. The scope of the destruction is unfathomable, yet the end is not in sight. 

    We recognize Israel’s right to defend itself against an enemy set on its annihilation, but we firmly oppose attacks that target civilians or fail to take civilian casualties into consideration. With attention diverted to Gaza, the Israeli army is continuing operations against Palestinians in the West Bank, and unrestrained settler violence has been unleashed. Since October 7, more than 275 Palestinians have been killed and some 3,000 arrested. International calls for action against the settlers have been ignored by the Israeli Government, and we commend those countries who are taking steps to refuse entry to settlers who have engaged in violence. 

But that is not enough.

    The international community must make it unequivocally clear that there will be no Israeli presence in the Gaza Strip the day after and that the end of the war must mark the beginning of a political process that will unite the West Bank and Gaza in a sovereign Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel. Amidst all this horror, we remain true to our belief that violence, from either side, is not the answer, and we choose to see in this crisis an opportunity for new thinking and action. 

    The 1973 Yom Kippur War shattered the conventional wisdom about the region that had been in place since 1967, eventually leading to the Israel-Egypt peace treaty. For the sake of both peoples, the security of the region, and the stability of the world at large, we must do whatever is necessary to ensure that this current, tragic war will lead to a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict that realizes the mutual right to national self-determination and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel. To that end, an international engagement is required to establish a mechanism of a temporary international or multinational trusteeship arrangement, as an interim step. This should be accompanied by the preparation of a “Marshall Plan for Gaza” to be organized by the United States, the EU, and the Arab League countries. 

    Despite other critical issues such as the Russia-Ukraine war and the climate crisis, the world must wake up to the urgency of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The events of October 7 and the subsequent developments have proven that the failure to achieve a just political; solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict guaranteeing peace, and security for both sides will continue to be a time bomb that may explode any minute. The denial of the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and statehood has consequences not only for the peoples of the region but for the peoples of the world. History has shown us that the two sides are incapable of reaching a peace agreement on their own, and the current war has driven them even further apart.  Active international involvement is needed to shepherd them toward a future of peace and coexistence.  

The Editors 

Hillel Schenker and Ziad AbuZayyad