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A Public Letter to the Palestinian People
The Women of Bat Shalom, Israel
June 5, 2002
This week marks 35 years of Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land. Over the past year, Israeli government policy has made unambiguously clear both its aim and the range of methods it is willing to employ to achieve its goals. Under the slogan of fighting terrorism and bringing security to our people, the Israeli government has intensified its use of brutal and immoral measures in the pursuit of a Greater Israel—that is, the endless domination over your people and your land. The cost in life and property, in emotional and mental suffering, to you as well as to us, is overwhelming. Despite the inequality in power between us, Israel cannot achieve security at the expenses of Palestinian national existence.
Sooner or later Israel will be forced to give up its illegal occupation. In the first place, because you have taught the world the meaning of the word 'sumud' [determination], in the face of siege, violence and cruelty. Your determination has challenged the international community to find ways to intervene more actively on both the humanitarian and political levels. And at the same time that the Israeli government has adopted an increasingly violent strategy approaching war, there still remain Israelis who are steadfast in their opposition to our government's methods and goals. We continue to demonstrate in the streets and speak up and out, locally and internationally, for peace, for justice, and for an end to the occupation.
We Israeli women members of Bat Shalom mark this occasion to reaffirm our commitment to continue the struggle to end the occupation of your land. We see the foundation for security for our two peoples in final status negotiations that begin with recognition of the right of Palestinians to a viable sovereign state next to Israel. We call for the removal of Israeli settlements, for Jerusalem to serve as two capitals for two states, and for the acknowledgement by Israel of its part in creating the refugee problem and a mutually agreed upon resolution of the problem grounded in relevant UN resolutions.
We insist that our humanity and commitment to justice not only connect us, Israelis and Palestinians, but also impel us to jointly continue the struggle for a just peace.
Bat Shalom is a grassroots organization of Jewish and Palestinian Israeli women working for a genuine peace grounded in the just resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, respect for human rights, and an equal voice for Jewish and Arab women within Israeli society.
This letter was published in the Arabic newspaper Al-Quds, June 5, 2002.