End of Peace Volunteer Camp, plus positive observations about the peace process

by ray goodlass

31 December: final day of the Peace Volunteer Camp which I’ll follow with some positive thoughts I’ve been observing and reading about the peace process, plus some comments on last night’s ‘What we do when we get home’ lecture/discussion, for those who want the serious stuff., all making for a longer and more policical post the usual, but I’ll enjoy it and I hope my readers do too.

Today’ work was in the lovely ancient Battir village, moving stones to make a park. We were helped by a very excited bunch of Palestinian kids, who were out of school early as it was the last day of term. Our work is always fun, but these terrific kids made it even more so. Tonight a farewell dinner/party at 1890 restaurant , which has become my home from home, and not entirely because it has free wi-fi. I’m off to Ramallah tomorrow, which is the defacto capital of Palestine.

Tpositive thoughts about the peace process come from my observations, discussions and reading (including but not limited to Michael Broning’s ‘The Politics of change in Palestine: state building and non-violent resistance’, e.g.

* The Palestinian Authority and Fatah have in recent years dropped their policy of ‘liberation before state building’ and instead , under Pime Minister Salam Fayyad is very actively working on state building.

* Hamas now recognises Israel’s right to exist, has quietly dropped its absolutist, dogmatic (and to be frank, racist) Charter of 1988, and is prepared to i) enter into the peace dialogue, and ii) use non-violent means to negotiate.

* There is a definite move in Palestine to favour non-violence as the preferred way to negotiate a just peace settlement.

* Palestine has fullfilled its obligations under the terms of the ‘Roadmap for Peace.

Of course, all this is no guarantee of success. The international community (ie the West, especially the USA, including Obama) seem oblivious to these positive changes, and Israel seems to be adopting ever more a strong siege mentality. Also, surveys show, in both the USA and Israel, that Israeli propoganda painting Israel as the party working hard for peace and that the Palestinians are the intransigent (?) ones  is even more successful now than in the past. Go figure, as they say, or read Broning and others who show without a shadow of doubt that it is Palestine that has bee steadily working for peace, especially since the PLO and Fatah recognised Israel and the two state solution in the 1980s.

There are other flies in the ointment too, one of which is the growing popularity in Palestine and amongst some influential commentators of a ‘one state’ solution, which Israel will never accept as it would mean the end of the Jewish state

The other impediment to a just peace is the refugees, who have been in camps since 1948/67/82, and, enshrined in a UN resolution, the Right of Return, which again, Israel won’t accept.

Last night’s lecture/discussion by an IPYL Board M ember and UNESCO staffer about ‘what we do when we get home’ included the things I have previously mentioned, plus becoming a very vocal ambassador for Palestine, continuing to volunteer here, working in Palestine in short or long term placements, lobbying, complaining to Israeli agencies and our own politicians, adopting BDS, studying Palestinian issues at university (including at home, overseas, and in Palestine) and getting scholarships to do so, and so on. IPYL can help with contacts.