Home Page

carol gould

Join our email list for updates.




We hope that you'll feel our website is worthy enough to contribute a few pounds to the bandwidth bills.



By-passing the Political Establishments to Peace
Last uploaded : Saturday 28th Dec 2002 at 15:22
Contributed by : Danny Rubinstein


Every day of the week last week, the widely distributed Al Quds newspaper carried advertisements from a movement called The Popular Campaign for Peace and Democracy - Palestinian. The texts of the ads called upon readers to support a joint Israeli-Palestinian document co-authored by former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon and the PLO representative in Jerusalem, Dr. Sari Nusseibeh. The initiative is familiar to the Palestinian public.

Ayalon presented his political positions to the Palestinians in a long interview with him published in the Palestinian media a few weeks ago. Nusseibeh wrote a prominently displayed article in Al Quds, with his views about current events.

The advertisements are clearly part of a comprehensive media campaign the two are conducting and which is expected to continue. Although their actual joint declaration has yet to be formally and officially published, Akiva Eldar published its details in Ha'artez. Some of the articles in the joint document have appeared in the ads, like "two states for two peoples," or "an open Jerusalem serving as capital to two states." The right of return is mentioned, saying the refugees will only return to the Palestinian state, just as Jews are allowed to return to the state of Israel, and that the suffering resulting from the refugees' exile must be recognized, so they can be paid compensation and assisted in resettling.

The ads also politically declare the need to support the Israeli peace camp.

One of the ads, for example, says, "Amram Mitzna is committed to the solution proposed by Ami Ayalon." The Israeli media reported in that regard that Mitzna announced he is committed to the entire Nusseibeh-Ayalon document, which angered his campaign staff. Another ad in the series says, "Strengthening the right wing in Israel means strengthening the settlements, while supporting the Ayalan document means evacuating the settlements."

Nusseibeh's views on terrorist attacks are well known: he is opposed to the intifada having any military characteristics. Last Wednesday, it was formulated as follows: "The intifada will win; peaceful resistance is an effective weapon that should not be scorned, and it will topple the crimes of armed aggression and raise the justice of the problem."

Many in the Palestinian leadership, like Nusseibeh, think the violent intifada damaged their cause. Even Abu Mazen, considered the No. 2 in the Palestinian hierarchy after Yasser Arafat, has spoken out often against the "militarization of the intifada," meaning turning it into a military campaign rather than keeping it confined to civil disobedience. But Abu Mazen speaks mostly behind closed doors or in Palestinian circles only, while Nusseibeh makes his views known openly and practically from every platform he can reach.

There is no doubt he is a brave man. More than once he has been threatened and attacked. A month ago, for example, leaflets were distributed in the name of refugee families from Deheisheh refugee camp south of Bethlehem accusing him of forsaking their right to their homes and property. There have been attacks on Nusseibeh in this matter in the past. He's often been insulted and cursed publicly. Saar Habash, one of the Fatah's leaders, wrote that he has no right to give up what does not belong to him and to someone who doesn't deserve it - a paraphrase of a Palestinian slogan about the Balfour Declaration that promised a land that didn't belong to Balfour to a people who did not deserve it. Nusseibeh went to Deheisheh to meet with the people who issued the leaflets against him, and explained his views.

Sama'an Huri, who works alongside Nusseibeh leading the media campaign for the joint statement with Ayalon, says they are making great efforts to reach the masses of Palestinians with the message and to persuade people to support it. A month ago, a copy was sent to 400 leading Palestinians and they were asked for their comments. According to Huri, most of the reactions were positive. Of course, people identified with the opposition, from the Islamic bloc and the left, were critical. But when Nusseibeh summed up the responses, they had a good feeing. Among others, they managed to win good responses, says Huri, from Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails. In the coming days, they will be monitoring the reactions to the ads that appeared in Al Quds, and with those reactions in hand, Nusseibeh will go back for another round of meetings with Ayalon and his team to work out the final draft of the document.

The entire initiative, which has won international funding, is aimed at getting masses of people to sign the document. The original idea was to get a million signatures from each side and then present it to the world as a fait accompli, a deal signed between the peoples, over the heads of their leadership.

Nobody is under the illusion it will be easy to get millions of signatures.

On the Palestinian side, things appear to be moving very slowly. The owner of a shop that sells books and newspapers on Salah a Din street in East Jerusalem says people buying Al Quds last week barely noticed the ads, which appeared in the upper corners of the front page. But they carefully examined the photographs from the curfews, the destruction and the dead, which took up much of the front pages. He said that when Palestinians see and read about Israeli soldiers reoccupying the Palestinian cities, it's nearly impossible to persuade anyone that there are partners for negotiations and peace in Israel.

Some gossips in the upper echelons of Palestinian society say that Nusseibeh has fallen out of favor with Arafat. They say that at one of the recent meetings of the Palestinian leadership, Arafat insulted Nusseibeh by naming Samir Rusha as special minister for Jerusalem in the new Palestinian cabinet, to the detriment of Nusseibeh's stature as the PLO's representative in Jerusalem. Nusseibeh's people say that Rusha's appointment shows that Arafat is actually very considerate of Nusseibeh, since Rusha represents only a tiny splinter faction in the PLO and holds very little sway in Jerusalem, where the ruling Fatah party is overwhelmingly popular.

Therefore, it was a symbolic appointment, meant to show the world the Palestinian government has a special minister for Jerusalem. But de facto, Nusseibeh manages the affairs in Jerusalem.

Last Tuesday, Nusseibeh held a reception for East Jerusalem VIPs at a restaurant near the city's Arab chamber of commerce offices, shut down a year ago by the Israeli police. The reception included a Ramadan fast-breaking meal, and Nusseibeh's office says there was an impressive response to the invitations that went out, with more than 500 people showing up. In the text of the invitation, Nusseibeh wrote, "Let's hope that our hopes for the establishment of our independent state with Jerusalem as the capital, come true, under the leadership of the brother and symbol, Yasser Arafat." According to Nusseibeh's people, many of those attended rose to thank Nusseibeh, and while none referred explicitly to the Nusseibeh-Ayalon initiative, their presence at the reception was viewed by many as an expression of support, showing that even in these days of despair from the rising tide of bloodshed, there is support for an arrangement such as the one Nusseibeh is proposing.

# # #

Danny Rubinstein is a journalist and editorial board member of Ha'aretz.

Visit the Ha'aretz website at http://www.haaretz.co.il/

JewishComment is grateful to Common Ground News Service for obtaining Copyright permission for publication.

e-mail: cgnews@sfcg.org

New Website:


Read more Guest Opinions    go >>



Web Design - Web Designers
© current viewpoint .com

All Rights reserved.
No copying of any text or images allowed in any form digitally or otherwise,
without the prior written consent of the copyright holders.