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Proposal for ending the Palestinian/Israeli conflict--One-state Solution

UNITED FEDERATION OF ISRAEL/PALESTINE

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Proposal for Ending the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict

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FOUNDATION FOR OUR PROPOSAL (Preamble)

By Kamal Nawash

This is a road map for creating a Union of Israel/Palestine. This plan allows Israelis and Palestinians to pursue a shared future based on a bi-national identity with a democracy that ensure security, equality and self-determination regardless of religion, gender, race or ethnicity.

Currently, there are approximately four (4) million Palestinians (Muslims and Christians) living in areas controlled by Israel (West-Bank and Gaza) who are deprived of Israeli citizenship. On the other hand, there are 550,000 Jews who live in the West Bank who are granted Israeli citizenship. These demographic statistics are at the core of the conflict. While Israel controls the borders of the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinians living there have no rights in Israel and are unable to travel freely from their cities to Israeli cities while their Jewish neighbors are able to travel and have full rights in Israel. The Jews of the West Bank have full access to Israeli hospitals, universities, courts, public transportation while the Palestinians do not.

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According to many Israeli scholars, the reason for the unequal treatment between Israelis and Palestinians is because Israel has a dilemma that it has been unable to solve from day one of its creation. Israel was created with the intention of being a Jewish state or a national home for the Jews. The problem with this goal is that Israel is not 100% Jewish. The dilemma for Israel is how to have a Jewish, democratic state with a substantial number of native Christians and Muslims in Israel and Palestine.

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When Israel became an independent country, many Jews believed that the demographic dilemma was solved after a majority of the Palestinians in the new country of Israel either ran away or were kicked out of their homes.

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The demographic dilemma reemerged 29 years after Israel was created when, as a result of the 1967 war, Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. The occupation of the West Bank and Gaza substantially increased the number of Christians and Muslims (Palestinians) under Israel's control. However, Israel refused to give citizenship or civil rights to the Palestinians in the newly occupied territories.

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Currently, there are approximately six million Jews in Israel, four million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and 1.5 million Palestinians in Israel proper. Thus, there are 6 million Jews and 5.5 million Palestinians in Israel/Palestine.

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Currently many Jews on the left and right believe that if Israel gave equality to Palestinians in the form of citizenship and political rights then Israel would cease to be a Jewish state. Consequently, Israel has isolated the Palestinians behind huge walls without freedom of movement and none of the civil rights and freedoms enjoyed by Israelis. Israel claims that the building of the wall was done for security reasons. Palestinians believe that the wall is nothing but a land grab because it was built on Palestinian land rather than Israeli land. Moreover, the Palestinians argue that during the first uprising (intifada), they did not use violence and Israel responded to their demonstrations with lethal weapons that killed thousands of Palestinians.

As to the security argument, the Palestinians argue that Israel does allow some Palestinians into Israel for the benefit of Israelis needing workers. Those Palestinians are checked and allowed in Israel at various checkpoints with no security risks to Israel. As to the rest of the Palestinians, under Israeli law, Palestinians are not allowed in Israel unless they have a special work or travel permit. Thus, Israel treats Palestine as if it is a foreign country but wants to exercise control over Palestine as if it is a province of Israel. This contradiction has driven Palestinians to seek statehood and independence from Israel.

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Currently, the Palestinians claim that their situation under Israeli control is worse than the situation of blacks in the United States prior to the civil rights movement and even worse than blacks in apartheid South Africa. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has made the same argument. Palestinians point to the irony of how Jews treat them, considering that Jews have traditionally been leaders in global civil rights movements. American Jews were and continue to be leaders in demanding equality and justice for blacks in the United States. However, the same Jews who supported equality for blacks in the U.S. opposed equality for Palestinians. The Palestinians interpret this contradiction as being caused by the fear of the above mentioned demographic dilemma. Israelis respond by saying that they are a different nation from the Palestinians and have no obligation to allow Palestinians equality or freedom of movement in Israel. Palestinians respond that Israel cannot claim that they are a different nation since Israel controls the borders of Palestine and controls the movement of Palestinians.

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Two State Solution

Over the last 30 years, the world has pursued the two state (two country) solution without much success. However, contrary to unanimous belief, neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis are to blame for the failure of the two state solution. The two state solution failed because the concept of creating two separate countries by dividing Israel/Palestine was and still is a difficult pill to swallow for Israelis and Palestinians. It is a fact that Israelis and Palestinians have religious, historical and emotional attachments to every square inch of the land that includes Israel and Palestine and neither side is eager to embrace permanent separation or "amputation" as described by Israeli novelist Amos Oz. Practically speaking, it should be obvious to anyone who takes an honest look at the map of Israel/Palestine that there is not enough room in such a small area to support two separate countries that are contiguous, and viable.

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Currently, the Palestinian Authority is requesting an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza. The West Bank and Gaza are approximately 23% of the lands that Palestinians claim as original Palestine. For most of their recent history the Palestinians have wanted to return to all of Palestine which includes all of Israel. It was only in the 1980s that a significant number of Palestinians began asking for a state in the West Bank and Gaza. In fact, the split between Hamas and Fatah and between Fatah and other branches of the PLO is precisely over this point. Hamas and other branches of the PLO reject the notion of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

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Not surprisingly, the leaders of Israel have also rejected the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. They argue that withdrawing from the West Bank and Gaza would leave Israel vulnerable while others argue that the West Bank and Gaza are integral parts of Israel and refer to the territories as Judea, Samaria and Azza. The attachment of many Jews to Israel/Palestine is so strong that many Jews claim that Jordan is Palestine and that Palestinians should move to Jordan.

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The fact is most Israelis and Palestinians share in the belief that Israel/Palestine is indivisible. For many Palestinians, Palestine is not the West Bank and Gaza, it includes all of Israel. For many Israelis, Israel includes all of Palestine. And both claim Jerusalem. Thus, the two state solution requires compromises that neither side can ever make.

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Increasingly, more and more Israelis and Palestinians are turning to the idea of a shared country in the form of a One-State Solution, Federation, confederation or a European style Union. The Authors of this article have also concluded that the way forward is for a shared future rather than separation. This article outlines a roadmap for Palestinians and Israelis to share Israel/Palestine in light of their goals, aspirations and fears.

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ROADMAP

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TWO STATES = ONE COUNTRY

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The Roadmap envisions one country designed as federation of two States, Israel and Palestine, where each State contributes 50% to the federal parliament regardless of population.

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This road map envisions two people sharing one united country where each side is guaranteed equality, freedom, civil rights and security. The reference to "States" is not to two independent countries but rather two partially sovereign entities similar to New York and New Jersey linked together to form one country similar to the United States of America.

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The road map envisions several tiers of government: federal, State, municipal, and autonomous districts with municipal powers. The federal government will have limited powers that are given to it by the constitution.

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BOUNDARIES

The ideal and preferred solution is not to have boundaries and in many instances the roadmap envisions a future with no boundaries. However, practical administration of a modern federation may require legal or administrative boundaries without physical barriers. Among the purposes of administrative borders is for simplicity in determining the reach of the State government and to give people the psychological satisfaction and security that comes from being a resident of a state of similarly situated people. The boundaries will not be apparent and the number of Parliamentarians who represent a State in the federal parliament will not be based on the number of people living in each State. Instead, parliament will be divided 50/50 regardless of population.

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To illustrate, Israel and Palestine will each contribute 50% to the federal parliament regardless of which State Jews and Palestinians choose to live. Jewish settlers will be represented in the federal government by the 50% allocated for Jews and Arab Israelis will be represented by the 50% allocated for Palestinians.

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The 50/50 split will never change. The purpose of the 50/50 split is to provide each side with security, equality and to make certain that the legislature will only pass legislation that benefits the entire country and not just one group.

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As to voting for federal candidates, Israelis living in Palestine or Palestinians living in Israel shall be able to vote for the Federal candidates who represent their district regardless of religion. For example, Jewish settlers living in Palestine may vote for the Palestinian candidates who represent their districts in the federal parliament and Palestinians living in the State of Israel may have the right to vote for the candidate that represents their district regardless of his or her religion. However, the parliament shall always be 50% Jewish and 50% Palestinian.

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The administrative borders may be based on the location of the people. Cities that are majority Jews may go to Israel and cities that are majority Palestinian may go to Palestine. The same may apply for federal voting districts. If there is no agreement on the administrative boundaries, the administrative boundaries may be based on the 1967 lines. Regardless, an agreement on boundaries should be easy since there is free movement of people and no permanent separation or exclusion from any jurisdiction.

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To illustrate further, if the Boundaries are not based on 1967 boundaries, Israel and Palestine may agree to adjust the state boundaries based on local referenda. For example, the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo is in the West bank and by default will fall within the boundaries of the Palestinian State. Similarly, the town of Abu Ghosh is a Palestinian Israeli town and currently falls within the boundaries of Israel. The residents of either town could vote to be included within the other state, which vote would require a 65% or more percentage of eligible voters in favor to pass. Regardless of the legal boundaries, the formation of the federation is such that the boundaries are of no visible significance for the free movement of people or labor. There will be no physical barriers or check points. The boundaries are only relevant for choosing parliamentarians for the State government and determining the application and reach of State law.

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FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

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The federal government shall be divided 50/50. The federal government will have specific authority that is given to it by the constitution. It will not interfere with State or municipal governments but will guarantee certain fundamental rights for all people. Where there is a contradiction between federal and State law, federal law must be supreme.

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As to municipal elections, the allocation of seats will be done on a system of one man one vote. There will be no limits on the number of any community in municipal parliaments. However, municipalities or districts may be created or designed around specific community concentrations. For example, Jews who live in Bethlehem or Palestinians who live in Tel Aviv shall have the right to vote and run for municipal elections. Moreover, community concentrations such as the Har Homa Jewish settlement which falls within the municipalities of Bethlehem and Beit Sahour may become its own municipality since it is large in size and 100% Jewish. In other words, it will be allowed to run itself. The same rule may apply to large concentrations of Palestinians within Israeli municipalities. Most importantly, neither municipality nor state government may discriminate against residents based on religion, ethnicity or gender. They must provide all residents with equal services. The federal government shall have the authority to enforce anti-discrimination laws.

President or Prime Minster

The President or the Prime Minister may be elected by the popular vote of the entire country or by the parliament. However, having the parliament make the selection maybe more appropriate because 50/50 parliament is more likely to produce a leader who will strive to serve all the people rather than just his community. While electing leaders by popular vote may cause discomfort and insecurity to the minority community.

Jerusalem

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Jerusalem shall be the Capital of the federation and there shall be no restrictions on the number of people who travel, visit or reside in Jerusalem.

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Police

There may be municipal police, State police, federal police, a national guard and a federal military.

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The federal police will have specific federal jurisdiction and will enforce laws that are within the jurisdiction of the federal government. The federal government will recruit and train federal police from both communities, preferably in equally numbers.

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There shall be State police and municipal police. The jurisdiction of the State police shall have general police powers and cover the entire State it belongs to and the municipal police shall have general police powers but limited to the municipality and subject to State restrictions.

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Federal Military and State National Guard

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The ideal situation will be for the federation to have one federal military. However, in light of decades of hostilities, the individual communities may want a State military guard for the State to feel secure in the early years of the union.

Thus, Israel and Palestine will keep their existing armed forces and at the same time develop a joint federal military made up of Palestinians and Israelis.

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For example, upon the creation of the union, the country of Israel may transfer most of its military to the State of Israel and call it the State National Guard. The same goes for Palestine. The National Guard may limit its membership to all Jews or all Palestinians depending on the State. The purpose of the State Guard is to provide real and psychological security to the States, especially in the early years of the union. As the years turn into decades and the States of Israel and Palestine begin to function as one country, the goal is for the State Guard to be less significant and the federal military to be the dominant military force.

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Federal military

The Federal military should be made up of young new recruits, whereby the new recruits are developed into a professional army over the years and decades. To the extent possible, the federal government shall recruit military personnel on a one to one basis, with equal numbers of Palestinians and Jews.

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MIGRATION AND RIGHT OF RETURN

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The new country shall accept the return of all Jews and Palestinians from all over the world. However, it is understood that some citizens may feel uneasy with the sudden movement of a large number of people into their State.

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Thus, while the basis of the new country is the free movement of labor and people, to reduce the fear from the sudden changes in demographics, a State may limit the number of people who migrate from one State to the other as permanent residents. However, the state cannot limit the number to less than 50,000 per year. The 50,000 limit shall NOT apply to labor or people traveling for anything other than permanent residency.

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As to the right of return, both Jews and Palestinians shall have the right of return to the federation at any time. There shall be no limit on the number of Jews who return to Israel or Palestinians who return to Palestine. The new returnees shall also have the right to free movement and employment anywhere in the new country. However, each State shall have the right to insist that the new returnees first reside in their respective State for five years before residing in the other State as permanent residents. For example, a Palestinian who is a resident of the United States may want to return to Israel/Palestine. The family of that Palestinian may have originated from Haifa in 1948 which is in Israel. He shall have the right to return to Palestine at any time. He shall have the right to travel and stay in Haifa at any time. However, if he wants to reside in Haifa permanently, the State of Israel shall have the right to insist that he first reside in Palestine for five years before moving to Haifa as a permanent resident. The purpose of this reservation is to reduce the anxiety that certain people may have from sudden changes in demographics.

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Economy

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There shall be NO restrictions on interstate commerce within the federation. This means that the federation shall act as one economy in every respect. No State may favor its industry to the detriment of the industry of the other State. No State may restrict the flow of goods from the other State or tax goods from the other State differently than it taxes goods of its own State.

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Israel/Palestine shall have the same currency, no tariffs and complete free trade. The early days of the national government or federation shall be to bring jobs and economic prosperity to both Israelis and Palestinians. This should be an easy task. A peaceful Israel and Palestine acting as one nation should be a gold mine the likes of which the world has never seen. A nation that is the birth place of western civilization and immensely revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims, religious tourism alone will guarantee a healthy economy in perpetuity.

However, the economy will have more than tourism to secure its prosperity. A nation of Palestinians and Israelis at peace with their neighbors shall have unlimited opportunities. The technical know-how of Israel, the available capital in the Arab world and a geography that is at the intersection of three continents can produce an economic power house that is second to none on a per capita basis.

Basic rights

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The federation shall have the power to guarantee basic rights of all the citizens of the federation. For example, the federation may protect citizens from religious, racial or gender discrimination. No state may have the right to discriminate against a citizen of the federation because if his/her religion, race, national origin or the exercise of free speech.

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Courts and state/federal law

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The States shall have general governing powers to enact laws. The States may use religion as a basis for law in family matters or any other matter that the people of the State feel that religion plays a role. However, a State may not compel religion or religious based laws on any resident of the State. Each resident of each State shall have the right to opt out of religious based laws and rely on secular law by seeking the jurisdiction of the federal courts.

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The federal courts shall have parallel jurisdiction to State courts but the federal courts shall only apply secular law which is the law of the federal government. The residents of the federation shall have the right to submit their legal matters to the State courts or the federal courts. For example, a Muslim who wants a divorce may apply to the State court which may apply Islamic law to determine her rights or obligations to her husband or children. However, if that Muslim woman may submit her dispute to the federal court which will decide the case based on secular law.

EDUCATION REFORM

There shall be a committee on education reform to study the school curriculums of the States. The curriculum must encourage respect among the religions and among Israelis and Palestinians.

COMPENSATION AND REPARATION

To help Palestinian refugees reverse the economic loss from being stateless, the federation shall at a minimum assist Palestinians by allowing all qualified students to get a college education at no cost and allow Palestinians to purchase housing with a 30 year, zero interest loan. Palestinians, whose land was confiscated after 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza, must be compensated using the current fair market value of the land.

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Words of empathy and understanding

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Palestinian to Israeli

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"We understand why the state of Israel is important to you. We understand that the Jews - as a people- have a right to self-determination and to rule themselves under their own national institutions. We are fully aware of the persecution that Jews suffered throughout history and the necessity of having a safe haven for Jews. We mourn your losses, we are pained by your pain and we want a future with no losses and no pain due to this conflict. We recognize that because of desperation and self-defense, both sides committed atrocities that should never be repeated. We also understand that Jews have historical and religious ties to the land of Israel/Palestine. We believe that every Jew shall have the right to move to Israel and become a citizen immediately. We also welcome Jews to live with us in our cities, towns and villages. We want the Palestinians and Israelis to live together as neighbors, friends and countrymen. In return, what we want is freedom, liberty and equality for the Palestinians. Will you meet us half way?"







Israeli to Palestinian

The roadmap is also requesting Israelis and Jews to reach out to their Palestinians Partners and say: "We understand why Palestine is important to you and we understand that the Palestinians - as a people- have a right to self-determination and to rule themselves under their own national institutions. We are fully aware of the suffering the Palestinians have experienced over the last 100 years and the necessity of having a safe haven for Palestinians. We mourn your losses, we are pained by your pain and we want a future with no losses and no pain due to this conflict. We recognize that because of desperation and self-defense, both sides committed atrocities that should never be repeated. We also understand that Palestinians have historical and religious ties to the land of Israel/Palestine. We believe that every Palestinian shall have the right to move to Israel/Palestine and become a citizen immediately. We also welcome the Palestinians to visit and to reside in our cities, towns and villages. We want the Palestinians and Israelis to live together as neighbors, friends and countrymen. In return, we want permanent security, liberty, equality and total freedom for the Jewish people. Will you meet us half way?"

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Task Force on Israel/Palestine

Posted August 27, 2011 by Kamal Nawash | 24 Comments

Arab Revolution moves to Israel and London

Arab Revolution moves to Israel and London

Kamal Nawash

By now everyone has heard of the Arab Spring. This is a phenomenon where Arabs have felt empowered to question the authority of their governments which has resulted in the removal of four long time presidents from power and one more on the way.

Soon after the demonstrations began in the Arab countries, analysts began asking whether the demonstrations will spread to Israel. However, the analysts were not talking about Jewish Israel they were instead talking about the Palestinian occupied territories of Israel. As it turned out, the Arab Spring has spread but not to Palestine. To everyone's surprise, the demonstrations have spread to Jewish Israel in what is increasingly being called the "Jewish Summer." Amazingly, Jewish Israelis were inspired by their Arab Neighbors in Egypt, Syria, Tunis, Libya and Yemen.

Ironically, the demonstrations in Israel have received zero coverage in the United States which is unbelievable considering that the size of the demonstrations are larger than demonstrations in every Arab country except for Egypt. Recently, more than 300,000 people took to the streets to protest under the banner, "The people demand social justice." As in the Arab countries, what started as a demand for economic and social justice evolved into a call for the fall of the leader, in Israel's case the removal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The following is a video of one the large demonstrations in which Israelis credit their inspiration to the demonstrations in the Arab countries. As in the Arab countries, the government of Israel has already begun making concessions to the people but the people continue to demonstrate. http://www.freemuslims.org/.

The recent changes in the Middle-East have been covered in detail all over the world. However, authoritarian regimes such as in China are doing all they can to prevent their people from learning about the Arab Spring, fearing that "people power" may spread to their countries.

The question that many are asking now, is could the uprisings in the Middle East lead to a fundamental change in the relationship between citizens and governments all over the world? One can only wonder how the Arab Spring will impact the West. Already, there are many reports that the demonstrations in London were inspired by the Arab Spring. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzDQCT0AJcw&feature=related. Many citizens in the West feel that their governments do not listen to them. This is an often repeated complaint by members of the Tea Party. Most recently, a Tea Party activist on CNN called for mass demonstrations like the ones in Egypt.

As to Israel and the Arabs, some Israeli and Palestinian bloggers have suggested that the people bypass their governments, who have been unable to make a peace, and deal with each other directly. The Free Muslims Coalition has been impressed with the empathy Arabs and Israelis have shown for each other during these demonstrations. After posting a video of Israelis demonstrating, www.freemuslims.org, many Muslims and Arabs wrote expressing solidarity with Israelis. Similarly, many Israelis and Jews have expressed support for Arabs in Egypt, Libya and beyond.

These developments have lead to cautious optimism between Palestinians and Israelis. The number of social media sites where Israelis and Palestinians interact is increasing exponentially. The Free Muslims Coalition has always believed that direct contact between Israelis and Palestinians would help both sides humanize each other. We share in the belief that Israel must allow Israelis and Palestinians to interact by traveling freely between each other's cities and towns. Segregation will cause more problems in the long run than the any short term benefit.

Please respond to this article by posting at: http://www.freemuslims.org/blog/index.php?id=145

Please visit our facebook page at Free Muslims Coalition's Taskforce on Israel/Palestine

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You may also follow us on twitter: @freemuslims

For Media questions contact: Kamal Nawash, 202-776-7191, president@freemuslims.org, www.freemuslims.org.

Posted August 09, 2011 by Kamal Nawash | 37 Comments