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Women’s Delegation Calls for an End to Failed Mideast Peace Formulas

| October 29, 2007

During the past week, according to an AP report, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has reached out to Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and others to discuss how to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Meanwhile, a delegation of Palestinian, Israeli, and international women are speaking out in California, New York, and Washington, DC, calling for a new, “consultative approach” to a negotiated agreement.

While Rice hopes to draw lessons from former initiatives for the upcoming, U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, members of the International Women’s Commission for a Just and Sustainable Palestinian-Israeli Peace (IWC) argue that the general statements of past negotiations “are a prescription for further deterioration” in the region. The women call for a specific commitment to end the occupation and create, according to 1967 borders, an independent Palestine alongside Israel with two capitals in Jerusalem.

The IWC delegation is scheduled to meet this week in New York with, among others, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the New York Times editorial board, before heading to Washington to speak to members of Congress and other policy makers. The East Coast sessions follow appearances in San Francisco and Los Angeles, sponsored by both Jewish and Muslim community groups.

The IWC grew out of a 2005 UNIFEM meeting in Istanbul concerning implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which obligates member nations to include women in diplomatic negotiations. Building on the work of Jerusalem Link and other women’s peace initiatives, it views the failure of Mideast peace diplomacy as the result of a process dominated by men who reflect military perspectives. What is needed, the delegates say, is an embracing approach to guarantee freedom for Palestine and legitimacy for Israel. And, they emphasize, full implementation of Resolution 1325 is necessary for a “substantive, comprehensive, and lasting peace.”

Members of the delegation include Maha Abu-Dayyeh Shamas, whose Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling in Jerusalem serves Palestinian women in the occupied territory; Anan Attiri, executive director of planning and management in Nablus and a Fatah candidate in the last Palestinian Legislative Council elections; Hania Bitar, founder of a Palestinian youth organization; political scientist and former Knesset member Naomi Chazan; Naava Eisin, director of the Archives of Jewish Education at Tel Aviv University and member of Machsom Watch, an Israeli women’s organization that monitors the conduct of Israeli soldiers in the Palestine territory; Molly Malekar of Bat Shalom, Israeli Women’s Venture for Peace; Jessica Neuwirth, president of Equality Now (and a Women’s Media Center board member); and Simone Susskind, advisor to the minister of justice and deputy prime minister of Belgium, and initiator of the first public dialogue between Israeli and Palestine women in 1989 in Brussels.

Together, they appeal to the international community to join “in an inclusive and transparent effort to extricate us from the shackles of the past and help us create a just and peaceful future based on the principles of justice, equality, tolerance, and mutual respect.”

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