Promoting a Joint Vision of Peace: Views from Israeli and Palestinian Civil Society
Co-sponsored by the Middle East Project, Conflict Prevention Project and Women Waging Peace
Amneh Daoud Badran, Director of the Jerusalem Center for Women, and Terry Greenblatt, Former Director of Bat Shalom, spoke at the Wilson Center.
Greenblatt stated that Jerusalem Link, founded in 1993, combines the efforts of Bat Shalom, an Israeli women's peace organization, with the Jerusalem Center for Women, a Palestinian organization, in an attempt to "bust the myth" that there is no partner for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She has been working with Palestinian counterparts to explore avenues for cooperation in the Middle East and the role of civil society in pursuing dialogue. They have made only limited headway. It is not a problem of access, she said; their message has been delivered at senior levels such as the United Nations Security Council. Unfortunately, very little has resulted once she and her colleagues have left the room. Greenblatt also described the proposal to create an International Women's Commission comprised of local Israeli and Palestinian women and representative leadership that could advise and monitor negotiations.
Badran emphasized the Palestinian cause. Palestinians are often treated as non-existent, she said; they are denied land and the ability to claim basic rights including self-determination. She discussed the kind of peace Palestinians are looking for: one that does not simply shift their status into another form of occupation, the root cause of the conflict. She also stated that women suffer most in conflict situations as they often lose their families, are killed while waiting at checkpoints, and find their houses demolished and husbands in jail. Thus, Badran said, women should be involved in future negotiations as well as in developing a new discourse toward a win-win solution to the conflict that is not based on militarism or power politics.