Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
October 12, 2004 - 11:00pm

Washington DC, Oct. 13 -- If the Gaza disengagement plan does not succeed, Yossi Alpher, former senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, said, Israelis and Palestinians “are on a slippery slope towards South Africanization, without a South African solution.” Ziad Abu Zayyad, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said that planting Jewish settlements in the West Bank undermines the prospect for a two-state solution as well, and that it is in Israel’s best interest to withdraw from the settlements.

The American Task Force on Palestine and Americans for Peace Now hosted a briefing yesterday by Alpher, co-editor of BitterLemons.org; and Abu Zayyad, co-editor of the Palestine-Israel Journal. Alpher and Abu Zayyad spoke about the prospects for conflict resolution and conflict management between Israel and the Palestinians.

Alpher stated that conflict management, not conflict resolution, is the only option at this time. He said Israeli Prime Minister Sharon sees disengagement from Gaza as a way to hold onto settlements in the West Bank and prevent a peace process. However, Alpher sees the disengagement plan as an incentive for additional disengagement, which Sharon will be unable to oppose. This view depends upon a successful Palestinian effort to restore order and accommodate the international donor community following Israeli disengagement from Gaza. Alpher noted that in the current plan to withdraw from Gaza, Israel will retain control over the entrances, exits, and airspace of the Gaza Strip.

Alpher listed four necessities for removing settlements: the political will in Israel; coordination between the Israeli Army and the Israeli police to withstand settler resistance; a determined and articulate Israeli leadership; and American pressure on Israel to follow through on withdrawal from the settlements.

Abu Zayyad called conflict management a dangerous concept since it signified no solution to the conflict. He said that the growth in Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory has not abated and that Sharon wants to annex much of the West Bank. Abu Zayyad supports restarting a peace process, and notes that within the Palestinian community, there is growing criticism of how the Palestinian Authority has responded to the past four years of violence, and there is real pressure toward reform. Palestinian parties are ready for a ceasefire if Israelis will accept, he said, though Sharon opposes this because it would restart the peace process.






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