Two representatives from Brit Tzedek V’Shalom: Jewish Alliance for Justice & Peace spoke to University of Wisconsin students and Madison residents Tuesday in support of possible solutions to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.
In the fifth stop of a BTVS weeklong Midwest tour, director of the Washington Office of the American Task Force on Palestine Rafi Dajni and Daniel Levy, former negotiator and government advisor for Ariel Sharon, spoke on the potential of peace between the two states.
Both speakers emphasized their support for the Geneva Accord — a “model Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement” — that would resolve the long-standing conflict. The proposed Geneva Accord is a plan that would, among other actions, divide Israel and Palestine into two independent nations on terms adhering to both sides of the issue.
Levy said the Geneva Accord is derived in part from 2000 peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian representatives at a Camp David summit held by former U.S. President Bill Clinton that was ultimately unsuccessful.
“They tried to come up with a blueprint of what Palestine-Israel peace would look like,” Levy said. “When [representatives] showed up, no one had done their homework, including the third party — the [United States].”
Levy added both Palestine and Israel blamed the United States as well as each other for the failed peace negotiations and were discontent efforts have not improved during President Bush’s administration.
“We felt the first four years of this presidency did not serve us well,” Levy said. “[The United States] is where the silent majority is at — it would be great for that voice to be heard.”
Levy said while U.S. support has been inherently inadequate, there has been significant progress toward peace between Israel and Palestine through joint political advertisements denouncing violence and polls showing both sides prefer peace.
Through the Geneva Accord, peace between the two sides would entail a “permanent status agreement” in which Israel would recognize the state of Palestine as a successor of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Subsequently, the state of Palestine would immediately recognize the state of Israel.
Director of the BTVS Wisconsin Chapter Todd Miller said American Jews need to accept a responsibility to end the conflict.
“We’re trying to get others to recognize that not just as American Jews, but as American citizens, we need to inform our representatives that there are a variety of opinions that it is in Israel’s best interest to create a viable Palestinian state,” Miller said.
UW sophomore Elizabeth Franklin spent a semester abroad in Israel and, having witnessed the conflict firsthand, believed a two-state solution under the Geneva Accord is both feasible and necessary.
“It was hard being there and always hearing about bombs and whatnot,” Franklin said. “I would like to see a peaceful solution for both sides. … I think that [the Geneva Accord] is a good idea.”