Palestine -- Israel -- Critical Evaluation of the "Peace Process"

Madrid, 2 October 2000

In a joint declaration issued at the conclusion of their deliberations, the participants of the international seminar on "The Palestinian-Israeli Peace Process 1991-2000" called upon the European Union to take coercive measures against Israel in order to ensure the security of the Palestinian people and to protect their right to life. The participants urged the international community to intervene so as to force Israel to recognize the Palestinian people's right to self-determination.

The Seminar was organized by the Arab Cause Solidarity Committee and dealt with (a) the legal framework for the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; (b) the development and results of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations; (c) the strategic questions of the final status negotiations; and (d) the new regional order in the Middle East in the context of economic globalization and U.S. political and military hegemony.

Ghassan Khatib, member of the Palestinian negotiating team at the Washington peace talks and Director of the Jerusalem Media & Communications Center, gave a comprehensive analysis of the "peace process" from the Madrid Conference to the Oslo negotiations. Further analyses, from the Palestinian side, were presented by the eminent poet Samih al-Qasim (Nazareth), the sociologist Prof. Adel Samara (Ramallah), and Prof. Zuhair Sabagh from the University of Bir Zeit. From the Israeli side, Mr. Michael Warshawski, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Alternative Information Center (Jerusalem), gave a critical evaluation of the Oslo process and called for the unequivocal recognition of Palestinian rights. A representative of the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem presented a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in occupied Jerusalem.

In his lecture on "The Palestine Problem in the Framework of International Law," Professor Hans Koechler, President of the International Progress Organization, explained the history of the Palestine problem since the British Mandate and the changing role of the United Nations. He gave a legal and political evaluation of the "peace agreements" concluded since the Gulf War. He stated that a new "constitutional" framework has to be created that goes beyond the legal notions of the Oslo agreements and that expressly acknowledges the Palestinian people's right to national self-determination. The President of the I.P.O. explained that a just and lasting settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict can only be achieved if one gets away from the framework of tutelage and colonial hegemony that characterizes the Oslo agreements. He said that there is no alternative to recognizing Palestinian sovereignty on the basis of Arab national rights and in conformity with the resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly. Dr. Koechler explained that such recognition excludes the establishment and continued existence of Jewish colonial settlements on Palestinian soil. Such enclaves will only be a source of future conflicts and armed confrontations and will permanently prevent a peaceful settlement to the conflict in the Near East.