Israeli peace movement material published
By Jennifer Thompson
Sydney's Australian-Jewish peace group, Shalom-Salaam, has returned to action, as the Israeli government blocks implementation of the peace accords with the PLO. Amongst its activities will be the publication of a newsletter carrying material from the Israeli peace movement.
The group has expressed serious doubt about Israeli government intentions in regard to independence for the Palestinians. It cites the expansion and consolidation of existing settlements throughout the occupied territories, which have speeded up since the Oslo accord was signed in September 1993. Spokesperson Vivienne Porzsolt told Green Left Weekly the settlements are "really problematic".
Porzsolt also criticised the Israeli government plan to delay the redeployment of Israeli forces from Palestinian population centres in the West Bank. "It's now supposed to be in two phases", she said, "and it was reported that Rabin said it was conditional on this set of highways being built in the West Bank".
The highways will link the Jewish settlements and divide the Palestinian ones, said Porzsolt, because the Palestinians won't have access to these highways. "If [Rabin] really means business [on redeployment], why spend this money — over a third of US$1 billion — on these highways?" The right-wing Israeli opposition is asking why the money will be spent if the settlements are to be abolished in the future, she said, "and that's a good question".
Commenting on the views of the Israeli peace movement in relation to the settlements, Porzsolt said that Peace Now, which has supported the Labor-Meretz governing coalition, supports selectively dismantling some of the settlements. The more radical Gush Shalom, she said, supports Jerusalem as the capital for "two peoples". "Gush Shalom is saying dismantle the settlements now, start talking Jerusalem now, make a commitment to an independent Palestinian state now, and start the final status negotiations."
Shalom-Salaam in Australia supports discussing the settlements, Jerusalem's final status and the permanent borders now, which "is what Yossi Beilin the current [Labor] minister of economic affairs is saying", according to Porzsolt.
The group's revived activity is based on a commitment to Israeli-Palestinian peace and justice, which, its first editorial says, "must include respect and reconciliation between the two peoples as well as a two-state solution based on mutual security and national independence".
Porzsolt said it was important for Jews in particular to have a voice on these issues. "There are Jews who object to Israeli policies and have a commitment to human rights and justice", she said. The newsletter can publicise Israeli views on peace not publicised here. "If we can release press statements and comments and offer an alternative view, that is useful."
[To join the group, or obtain a copy of the newsletter, write to Shalom-Salaam, PO Box 194, Woollahra NSW 2025.]