Future Options: What Could a Sustainable Solution for Israel-Palestine Look Like?

Keynote Speaker: Prof. Johan Galtung, professor of Peace Studies; founder of TRANSCEND: A Network for Peace and Development; founder of the Peace Research Institute, Oslo; and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (1987) Moderator: Dr. Munther Dajani, chair of the Faculty of Arts, Al-Quds University On September 3, 2007, Prof. Johan Galtung, the father of peace studies, gave a lecture on his model for a sustainable solution at Al-Quds University at an event co-hosted by the Palestine-Israel Journal. Dr. Munther Dajani, chair of Al-Quds University's Faculty of Arts, and PIJ Co-Editor Ziad AbuZayyad each welcomed Prof. Galtung, and Al-Quds University Vice President Dr. Hassan Dweik presented him with a commemorative plaque. Before the presentation, Prof. Galtung was taken on a tour of the campus by Dr. Dweik and members of his staff. Prof. Galtung had an opportunity to see first-hand the separation wall which cuts Abu Dis in two, covered with anti-wall graffiti written by students and internationals. Dr. Dweik described how the students had carried out a non-violent protest against the original route of the wall and won, saving one-third of the campus. This was a crucial factor in the university's ability to expand its activities, including many joint activities with prominent Israeli and international academics and institutions. There are currently 9,000 students at Al-Quds University, and this number is expected to increase to 13,000 in the coming year. Prof. Galtung also toured the special on-campus Mathematics Museum, the only such museum in the Arab world. This was of particular interest to him because his first field of study was mathematics, and he is currently at work on a book devoted to "Peace Mathematics." He also heard a description of the new Abu Jihad Center for Political Prisoners' Affairs, a museum containing invaluable and moving documentation and testimonies from Palestinian prisoners who spent time in Israeli jails. Click "Play" to listen to the recording of Prof. Galtung's lecture Excerpts from Prof. Galtung's lecture: A sustainable solution for Israel-Palestine has three levels: 1) a two-state Israel-Palestine accord within international law; 2) a six-state Middle East Community of Israel with border countries; and 3) an Organization for Security and Cooperation in West Asia. This is not only a solution, but the only solution; in other words, a necessary and sufficient condition for peace in the region. This proposal is holistic, not based on "peace by pieces." It does not confuse solution with settlement, a signed, ratifiable document. This is necessary, but not sufficient.

Dr.Dweik explains how the students succeeded in saving the Al-Quds University campus from being bisected by the wall. From left: Hillel Schenker, Prof. Johan Galtung, Dr. Hassan Dweik and Ziad AbuZayyad.

A "community" is a joint project for economic (joint ventures), cultural (joint peace education and ecumenical work), military (joint patrolling) and political cooperation (joint steering, corresponding to the EU Council of Ministers and Commission), with open borders (based upon the June 4, 1967 borders, with possible mutual rectifications) for persons, ideas, goods and services, and an ad hoc agenda for conflict transformation as they appear. Settlement and investment may come later. A community is a joint project for peace. Thus, Israel's three major publicly stated goals — a state with a Jewish character, secure borders and the right of return — would be met, the latter within limits. As would Palestine's three major publicly stated goals: a state, a capital in East Jerusalem and the right of return (within limits). Palestine would get its state according to international law (UN resolution 194, UNSC 242 and 338) and the 1988 Palestine National Council (PNC) resolution endorsing a two-state solution. Israel would receive recognition from all Arab States, following the 2002 Saudi statement endorsed by the Arab League in Beirut and reaffirmed in 2007 in Riyad. To this I add a Middle East Community, resembling the EC, and a West Asian organization for security and cooperation, along OSCE lines, out of sheer necessity. A two-state solution alone will not do it. The asymmetry is so much in Israel's favor that it will cause, if unintentionally, structural manipulation, exploitation and tension. Even worse, "peace" with Palestine will make problems with Lebanon and Syria, Jordan and Egypt loom larger. Five manipulated "peaces" with amenable governments do not add up to genuine peace. Israel itself has much more to gain from a genuine peace that spells e-q-u-i-t-y. A "community" will only be sustainable, and will function smoothly, at a high level of equity, meaning that benefit is not only mutual, but close to equal. Peace needs balance, not military balance to deter, which leads to arms races, but economic-cultural-political balance for equity that produces positive peace.

Prof. Joahn Galtung (R) thanks the university for honoring him, after Dr. Hassan Dweik presented him with a commemorative plaque.

An Organization for Security and Cooperation in West Asia would include the six states plus Turkey, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Central Asian republics. The U.S., UK and France (and Germany), Russia and China (and India) could be invited as observers with speaking (not voting) rights. Let the West Asia/Middle East/Eastern Mediterranean (with all of Cyprus) be a regional umbrella organization, linking Israel-Palestine to the Kurdish issue, to Iraq after US withdrawal, and to a nuclear weapons free zone. For this to work at all, the two peoples would have to take on the following quid-pro-quo understandings: - I accept your Nakba suffering at our hands, if you at least accept our Shoa suffering, even if not at your hands; - I accept your legitimacy based on a covenant with your historical myths if you accept our legitimacy as the original inhabitants; - I accept two cantons for your people on our lands, if you accept two cantons for my people on your lands. Conclusion: I accept your right as a state, if you accept mine: suffering for suffering, myths for myths, cantons for cantons and states for states. Cynical? There have been worse deals in history. Crucial in this exercise would be an ethos of mutual learning based on the positive elements in religion, shared history and culture.

Prof. Johan Galtung (L) presents his lecture to an audience of faculty members, as Dr. Munther Dajani (C) and Ziad AbuZayyad listen.
Pressure from the outside and a massive, constructive “Another Middle East” is possible, civil society actions inside the region are indispensable. Israel's moral capital is rapidly evaporating, most significantly in a U.S. that will need someone to blame for its decline; like in the case of South Africa, U.S. policy may change dramatically. Israeli violence and intransigence mobilizes resistance in the Arab and Muslim worlds, if not in the sense of inter-state warfare, then in the postmodern sense of terrorism responding to Israeli state terrorism. Highly motivated volunteers willing to enter this struggle are in unlimited supply. Economically Israel is becoming a liability; there are imminent boycotts and pressure to disinvest. Militarily Israel may commit the U.S. to highly questionable wars, and bases are available elsewhere (Turkey, Kosovo, Macedonia). Politically Israel is a liability in the UN; and the EU and NATO allies, may not legitimize violent intervention. The U.S. may prefer a reasonable agreement to supporting a loser. For Israel and Palestine there is no security at the end of the present road of violence — only increased violence and insecurity. Haaretz article by Akiva Eldar about Prof. Galtung's lecture, September 11, 2007

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