Archive for October 2006

Saudi Ambassador Calls for U.S. to Step Up: “Implementation Should Be Done Now”

October 31, 2006

It is time to stop developing plans and start pursuing action, Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Prince Turki said yesterday.  Everyone knows that two states is the solution, he said, but he warned that goal would never be achieved without U.S. involvement and pressure.

During the question and answer portion of his address to the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, Prince Turki recounted all of the peace efforts he had “lived through” that have dissected the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and put forth solutions, which will inevitably be the foundation to any agreement.

He said, “And there is nothing new to add to that equation other than the fact that all of these plans need to be implemented.  The United States, in its Roadmap, has given a way to achieve peace and the establishment of a two-state solution.  Couple that with the Abdullah Peace Plan of 2002 and you will get an end view to that process, which is two states, based on the ’67 borders, with Israel withdrawing from all Arab territories, including Jerusalem, in return for total Arab countries’ recognition of Israel and normalization of relations.  And the only thing lacking in all of these things is that nobody has put their foot forward, and we have to be clear in our views on this issue.

“The United States is the only country that can do the right thing for everybody in the Middle East, not only because of the size and strength of the United States, but because the United States is engaged and enmeshed in our political situation and has been for the last 50 years or so, whether it likes it or not.  And I don’t think it’s a matter of liking or not that should decide this year, but where are the basic interests of the United States?  The basic interests are for peace to reign in our part of the world so that we can turn to more fruitful endeavors and more contributive engagements with each other.”

His full speech may be found here.

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Can You Hear Them? Israeli and Palestinian Women Speak Out

October 30, 2006

Can You Hear Me? Israeli and Palestinian Women Fight For Peace
A Film by CALME Luminary Lilly Rivlin, Producer, Writer and Director

CALME Luminary Lilly Rivlin’s film is the first documentary to explore in depth the role of Israeli and Palestinian women peace activists dealing with one of the world’s oldest conflicts.  Though prospects for peace have ebbed and flowed between Israelis and Palestinians, women peace activists have worked consistently to bring an end to the bloodshed that has brought so much anguish to both sides.  No matter how desperate the political situation seem these women never stop communicating with each other.  They come together in their bereavement over the loss of loved ones and to demand a better future for their children and grandchildren. There is bonding, there is friction, there are differences of opinion.  But most of all it is a story about women who have hope and keep on trying to hear each other and do not give up their work for peace.

UPCOMING NEW YORK CITY SCREENINGS after the jump.

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IAEA Chief Stresses Two States for Human Security

October 27, 2006

Sadat Lecture for Peace
Delivered by Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei

In IAEA Chief Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei’s speech on Tuesday at the Sadat Center at the University of Maryland, he stepped outside of his normal realm of preventing nuclear proliferation to instead speak about the importance of two states to the region writ large:

“In June 2002, President George Bush articulated for the first time the formal support of the United States for a Palestinian State, laying out the principles of what would be called the ‘road map’ to achieve that goal.

For security in the Middle East to be realized will naturally require more than just finding a solution to the Israeli–Palestinian issue. The need to achieve stability in Iraq and Lebanon, to normalize relations with Iran, and to address pressing issues of development, governance and modernity throughout the region are only a few of the substantial challenges that must be dealt with.

But if the Palestinian question were to be resolved, a decades old burden of Arab–Israeli tensions would be lifted that would improve immeasurably our ability to deal with these and other challenges.”

Read the full speech here.

Palestinians Search for the U.S.

October 26, 2006

The subheading of West Bank correspondent Jamil Hamad’s post on Time online today starkly states, “By vacating its traditional refereeing role, the U.S. may be condemning Israelis and Palestinians to disaster.”

Comparing the situation playing out in the Palestinian territories to the fall of Solomon’s temple, Hamad says, “America has abandoned the role of honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians, leaving Israel with no restraints on its actions, and the Palestinians with no faith that diplomacy can change their situation. The resulting collapse of any kind of peace process will benefit neither Israel nor the Palestinians. If things are allowed to remain as they are now, the hostility between the two peoples will soon pass a point of no return, leaving them ensnared in a grim story of blood and bitterness for the foreseeable future.” (more…)

Secretary Rice’s Regional Efforts May Require Unsavory Partners

October 25, 2006

David Ignatius’ op-ed, “Reach Out to the Red Zone,” implores Secretary Condoleezza Rice and the Bush administration to stretch beyond their diplomatic comfort zone in the Middle East to work with all of the key players in the region.  This includes those terrorist organizations (to include Hamas and Hezbollah) that are more challenging to engage with, but crucial nonetheless to any serious efforts to affect meaningful change in the region.  

His argument could be taken one step further to encourage Secretary Rice to focus her efforts specifically on the greatest regional sore spot, the stalled Israel-Palestinian peace process.  As long as this central conflict remains unresolved, it will continue to foster overarching regional grievances and will impede much needed progress on other tough issues, such as Iran’s nuclear status.  Such issues cannot be addressed in a regional vacuum, or without first addressing the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.  (more…)

The U.S. Must Return to Resolving Conflicts – Not Just Managing Them

October 23, 2006

In the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian, former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, as well as Ambassador to both Syria and Egypt, eloquently lays out a number of points that several of CALME’s luminaries have proffered in previous posts.  The crux of his argument is that the United States has led Israel and its neighbors out of conflict before by acting as the third-party peacemaker, and it is possible – and time – for the U.S. to play that role again.  He also reminds readers that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not operate in a vacuum; solving it is integral to bringing stability throughout the region.

Ambassador Djerejian’s article concludes, “President George W. Bush should [therefore] reiterate the vision of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace settlement that he presented in June 2002, including his explicit call for a two-state solution involving a Palestinian state living in peace and security next to the state of Israel, and make it clear that he will work toward that end with the international community for the remainder of his presidency.  This could give the parties in the region the political space they need to make the tough decisions and compromises for a negotiated peace.  This thorough approach to peace, which would bring all the Arab and Israeli parties together to address the issues on the Palestinian, Lebanese, and Syrian fronts in a parallel manner, could be modeled after the Madrid peace conference of 1991. (more…)

Peace and Education

October 19, 2006

By CALME Luminary Lynne Wasserman
Vice President, Wasserman Foundation

An estimated 500,000 Palestinian children are currently out of school due to an ongoing strike in the West Bank that has closed most public schools.  In response, the UN is now working separate from the Palestinian government to provide activities, literacy and computer training, and safe recreation areas to local children.  24%of West Bank schools are already run by the UN.  While I applaud these efforts, this is not a permanent solution to an educational crisis occurring in a year that has already proved itself to be particularly challenging to Palestinian children.  According to UNICEF, in the past four months alone, over 180 children in Gaza have been killed or injured in the ongoing violence.

This is not an acceptable state of affairs.  Although attention was rightfully focused on Secretary Rice’s diplomatic outreach during her recent trip, high-level diplomatic efforts alone will not succeed.  They should not be considered completely separate from the everyday social issues such as healthcare and education that affects the apolitical man and child on the ground.  While I continue to wholeheartedly support the President’s vision of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I also applaud those working at myriad NGOs concurrent to the peace process to better the lives of Israeli and Palestinian children.  They are laying the groundwork for the lasting changes in attitudes, education, and tolerance among any Palestinian government’s constituency that will ultimately make possible the long-term success of any diplomatic solution.