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Let’s really hear from the grass roots

Let’s really hear from the grass roots


BADIL Resource Center
12 November 2003
For Immediate Release



Let’s really hear from the grass roots


The Geneva “understandings” and other recent proposals for peace in the Middle East have been characterized by some commentators as grass roots or bottom up initiatives since no politicians in power were involved. Authors of these plans don’t always represent the grass roots, so here’s a sampling of views from the grass roots as expressed in recent public meetings and seminars in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Shati (Beach) Camp, Gaza: The Geneva draft although signed by some Palestinian officials only represents their personal positions. PLO and PA institutions should put an end to plans that harm prospects for the right of return.

Society of the Jaffa Community, Gaza: No compromise on the right of return and its implementation in accordance with international law and UN resolutions.

Palestinian Center for Peaces Issues, Aqbat Jabr camp, Jericho: Refugees should have a major role in drafting agreements on their future. To do so, an education campaign is needed to help empower community-based refugee organizations. It should be a people’s issue and it is important to stop any initiatives or solutions to the refugee issue not built on international law and UN resolutions.

Union of Youth Activities Centers (West Bank/Gaza): A small group is reinventing history. “We say to those who negotiated in hotels on the Mediterranean and at the Dead Sea, there is a wide diversity of history, civilization and ‘existence’ between the two seas. Once again, the political acrobats are negotiating on behalf of the refugees, pretending they are applying UN resolutions.” The people did not give them the authority to abandon the right of return. “We invite them back into the national consensus if they adhere to international resolutions, not abandon them.”

The Popular Committee on the Right of Restitution, Bethlehem says that a comprehensive just peace could only be reached by solving the refugee question on the basis of international law, including UN Resolution 194. Another Bethlehem group focusing on the right of return called on the PNA and PLO to stop those who are toying with basic Palestinian rights.

Refugee Committees, Gaza: In a joint press release, the committees stressed that international resolutions on the refugee issue should be the basis for reconciliation and that any negotiations or understandings ignoring them are totally rejected.

Right of Return Conference, Nablus: Refugee organizations and civil society groups met to ”raise the voices of refugees and non-refugees against the Geneva understanding, especially those parts related to the refugee issue”.

High National Committee for Defense of Refugee Rights, Ramallah: At a 9 November meeting, the committee went on record as rejecting the Geneva proposals and decided to organize a number of events on 29 November including a general strike.

Similar meetings in other communities also called for public participation and the integration of international law (conventions and UN resolutions) into the negotiating process.


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