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The Israeli-Palestinian Initiative


Toward a Peaceful Israeli-Palestinian Relationship

Ten Israelis and Palestinians actively involved in the search for peace, and a ranking member of the Palestine National Council met July 15-19, 1991, at the Sequoia Seminar in Ben Lomond, California, in a dialogue on the future of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. They met under the co-sponsorship of the Stanford University Center on Conflict and Negotiation and the Beyond War Foundation with the assistance of Dr. Harold Saunders (former Assistant Secretary of State) and members of the Stanford Center and Beyond War's Task Force on the Middle East. Achievements of the conference include:

  • An unequivocal commitment by both Palestinians and Israelis to a just and lasting peace for two nations enjoying full self-determination, mutual recognition, and security.
  • A convincing demonstration of the capacity of Israelis and Palestinians to reach agreement about plans for a common future, and for the first time, to express that agreement in a comprehensive document endorsed not only by the Israeli and Palestinian participants but also by the Palestine Liberation Organization.
  • Compelling testimony about the human suffering of the Palestinians under the occupation and the terrible costs and risks of the status quo to both sides.
  • Concrete measures the participants and other citizens can undertake to broaden political consensus for the peace process and to overcome mutual distrust and dehumanization.
  • Valuable insights about the preparation and conduct of a "public peace process."

The participants now want to share the fruits of their dialogue with their fellow citizens and with concerned citizens of other interested countries.


Toward a Peaceful Israeli-Palestinian Relationship


We offer this Framework for a Public Peace Process as a vehicle for drawing together in common cause and mutually supportive activity all who are working for a peaceful Israeli-Palestinian relationship.

Specifically, we will use this paper as both an educational and a political instrument. By inviting Israelis and Palestinians to sign this document, we seek to enlarge the number of those who understand and support the ideas expressed here. In public debate the document will demonstrate the ability of Israelis and Palestinians to reach agreement on concrete issues critical to a peaceful settlement of the conflict between them.

We invite all who work toward this end to consider themselves as working together within this Framework to give coherence and momentum to a public peace process.

In doing so, we as concerned Palestinians and Israelis complement, support, and encourage the active efforts of political authorities toward peace.

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Moving the Israeli-Palestinian and the Arab-Israeli conflicts towards resolution will give impetus to a broader peace in the Middle East.

The Israeli-Palestinian relationship stands at a moment of danger and opportunity. Ironically, as prospects for advancing the peace process increase, danger and human suffering become more acute.

Human suffering increases daily in the West Bank and Gaza. Human rights violations under the occupation, the closure of educational institutions, and the various types of collective punishment contribute daily to this suffering. The environment of violence and confrontation leads to a vicious cycle of violence and counter-violence which undermines advancement of the peace process.

The West Bank and Gaza are heading toward economic catastrophe, due to sharply increased unemployment and lack of industry. Punitive measures by the Israeli authorities aggravate the problem. The economic and political conditions of the Palestinians outside the occupied territories have deteriorated. Palestinians living in the Gulf states, many of whom are now homeless and stateless, can no longer provide the economic cushion that previously helped reduce the economic frustrations of those living under Israeli occupation.

Every day there is tangible evidence of more Israeli settlements, enlargement of existing settlements, and extensive and growing land confiscations. This increases Palestinian desperation and complicates and undermines efforts to seek a settlement.

As despair and bitterness grow in the occupied territories,the intifada may become more violent. The possibility mounts that there will be a movement from stone to knife to gun. With no remedy forthcoming, this sharp increase in violence could even trigger another war.

The ongoing occupation is taking its heavy toll on Israeli society. It causes the brutalization of the people and the erosion of Israeli morale and traditional Jewish values. Israelis have been attacked and killed by Palestinians in Israel's city streets. The continuing debate over the territories is tearing the fabric of Israeli society. It affects the Israeli army's preparedness. It requires Israelis to spend long periods of frustrating military service in the territories. The cost of the occupation is high, and the heavy investments in infrastructure and in settlements are at the expense of Israel's infrastructure and of the disadvantaged members of society. It also endangers international financial aid vital for the national effort to absorb the Russian Jewish immigrants.

The internal violence in Palestinian society has raised fears for the peace process in Israeli society.

We feel that a substantial number of people in both our communities are ready to say: "Enough! It is time to move beyond war to peace." The deteriorating situation jeopardizes their efforts to move toward peace.

Principles and Provisions
of a Palestinian-Israeli Agreement

The objective of the peace process is to establish a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians as part and parcel of a comprehensive settlement between Israel and the Arab states.

This peace is to be achieved through the withdrawal of Israeli forces from territories occupied in 1967, allowing the Palestinian people the exercise of their right to self-determination in those territories. This includes the right to establish an independent state or other confederative solution of their choice. At the same time, the State of Israel is to be guaranteed recognition, security and territorial integrity by both the State of Palestine and other Arab States. This can take place through mutually agreed steps, by means of negotiations involving the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, whom the Palestinians consider to be the Palestine Liberation Organization; the government of Israel; and other concerned parties; based on U.N. resolutions 242 and 338.

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The following provisions will govern a Palestinian-Israeli agreement:

End of the state of war and all hostile activities in the region.

Mutual Recognition. The State of Palestine, the State of Israel, and the Arab States shall mutually recognize each other.

1967 borders with minimum necessary modifications for both sides.

Stages. To achieve this historic compromise between the two peoples, there are barriers that have to be overcome on the principles of equality, mutuality, and reciprocity. Implementation in stages will help build mutual confidence and trust, leading to the attainment of the above mentioned objectives.

The agreement of the peace settlement will be implemented in stages within a time frame of a maximum of five years, starting from the date of signing the agreement. This time frame is needed for the gradual buildup of mutual confidence and trust, to assess the compliance on the part of both parties, and for the building of the infrastructure and institutions of the envisaged Palestinian state.

In this interim period, all acts of violence will be stopped in Israel, in the territories, and on the borders. At the same time, the government of Israel will stop all settlement drives including the expansion of existing settlements, confiscation of land, and emergency regulations. During this interim period, Israel will minimize the presence of Israeli military troops in the Palestinian-populated areas. In the interim period, the full de jure application of the Geneva Convention will be provided to help protect the safety of the Palestinian population.

Any non-compliance with the above conditions will lead to dispute resolution measures agreed upon by the parties.

General Security Principles

  • The peace agreement by itself will reduce motivation for war and hostility in the region.
  • Political stability in the region, resulting from a comprehensive peace settlement, will reinforce security in the region.
  • Economic prosperity and interdependence will ensure the common interest in maintaining a lasting peace.
  • General and specific security provisions in the military sense for each state as laid out below.

General Security Provisions for Both States

  • Guarantee of security in the Middle East depends upon the reduction of arsenals of arms in the whole region, including weapons of mass destruction.
  • Security is seen as including the State of Israel, the State of Palestine, and all Arab States.

Israeli Security Provisions-Principles for Security:

  • Israeli security based primarily on Israel's own ability to defend itself.
  • Limited militarization of the Palestinian State.
  • Regional arrangements preventing deployment of foreign troops in Jordan, Palestine and Israel, other than those agreed upon by the parties.
  • Financial and technical support to Israel from third parties as compensation for loss of territory.
  • Specific security arrangements on the ground and in the air space following the aforementioned principles to be agreed upon by the parties in the peace treaty.

Palestinian Security Provisions-Principles for Security:

  • Long-term: International economic and financial investment to build an infrastructure, industrial development, and housing to help ensure the stability and security of the State of Palestine.
  • Short-term:
    -International guarantees for the security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the State of Palestine.
    -An agreed-upon Palestinian defense force to maintain internal order and to safeguard the borders.


  • Jerusalem is the holy city for three faiths and is important historically, nationally, and culturally for the two peoples. It can and should be the city of peace.
  • The political solution for Jerusalem should not lead again to its physical division. It is agreed that the city shall remain physically united.
  • After the peace treaty and the five-year interim period, the Palestinian part of Jerusalem will be the capital of the State of Palestine. The Israeli part of Jerusalem will be the capital of the State of Israel.
  • Each part of Jerusalem will have its own municipality, each with equal representation on an umbrella municipal council for metropolitan Jerusalem.
  • Freedom of access and worship at all holy sites, and free movement through the city will be guaranteed to all citizens and visitors.

Right of Return

  • The State of Palestine is the state of all Palestinians wherever they live. They can return whenever they want.
  • The State of Palestine will regulate the return of Palestinians according to its long-term plans of absorption.
  • The procedures for Palestinians who wish to return to their homes in Israel or receive compensation will be subject to negotiations in the peace process. No collective return of Palestinians to their homes is envisioned. The procedures to receive compensation for their properties for Jews who left Arab countries shall be subject to similar negotiations.

Refugees. Significant economic assistance will be acquired to rehabilitate, retrain, and resettle Palestinian refugees and to provide them with opportunities to live as citizens in permanent residence in the State of Palestine or in agreement with Arab States where they live at present.

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  • Settlers who wish to stay in the State of Palestine after the peace treaty should obtain consent from the State of Palestine and should undertake to accept Palestinian jurisdiction.
  • Settlements obtained by land expropriation during the occupation should be returned to the State of Palestine.
  • Settlements obtained by individual legal purchase remain as the legal property of the owners, and owners should be compensated if they choose to leave.

Gaza. Arrangements will be made for a free passageway through Israel between the West Bank and Gaza.

Water. An agreement should be concluded regarding sharing water resources. Under such an agreement there would be a regional system covering the countries of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine. The system could draw on water resources of other Middle East countries.


  • Arrangements and goals will be defined for the normalization of relations between the two states.
  • Normalization includes diplomatic relations, the exchange of ambassadors, and other representatives.
  • The economic relationship between Israel and Palestine should include joint projects in agriculture, tourism, commerce, industry, energy, and transportation. Labor mobility across the borders of the two states should be regulated by mutual agreement between them. Civil aviation agreements covering the mutual use of airspace by the two countries will be part of the peace treaty.
  • Economic relations in the region could ultimately be modeled after the European Community concept with cooperation and coordination in all areas and without interference with the character and sovereignty of each state.

A Public Peace Process

Present suffering, misperceptions, fear, and mistrust make it difficult even to take the first steps toward a peaceful relationship. While political leaders seek new relationships among governing institutions, citizens on both sides must pave the way by imagining steps to help those in the other community fear less, change perceptions, and risk trust. The aim is to enable Israelis and Palestinians to think and work together towards a growing relationship of peace.

To accelerate constructive change in the present relationship between our communities, we have identified the following areas where we are prepared to encourage citizens in both communities to work together in building new relationships.

To broaden consensus on a new relationship, we will encourage steps such as the following which do not depend on government authorities:

  • stimulate public debate on specific components of a peaceful Israeli-Palestinian relationship.
  • emphasize the need for peace and clarify the fruits of peace, notably greater access to water, oil, tourism, and other aspects of economic prosperity and cultural enrichment.
  • broaden public opinion polling on security and a two-state solution to include significant elements of the Palestinian as well as the Israeli community.
  • dramatize the human and economic costs of continuing occupation for both sides.

To humanize the other side and increase trust, we will work to expand direct contacts and joint activities between Israelis and Palestinians to overcome stereotypes and distorted perceptions and to promote thinking and acting together. For instance, we will:

  • invite Palestinians and Israelis where we can to write regularly in each other's publications and encourage joint publication.
  • encourage supportive activities by professional organizations of lawyers, psychologists, medical doctors, and other professions.
  • provide training and educational programs for Israeli and Palestinian teachers and students.
  • promote student visiting between Israeli and Palestinian schools, exchange lecturers between universities, establish an Israeli-Palestinian school, develop common curricula.
  • establish a joint conflict resolution center.
  • provide and distribute video interviews that promote mutual understanding and empathy.
  • demonstrate concern for human rights by practical steps to support those harmed by violations, to press respect by authorities for the Fourth Geneva Convention in the occupied territories, to campaign for the rights of prisoners through legal challenges and media campaigns.
  • try to establish twinning relationships between Israeli and Palestinian communities.
  • help Palestinian family reunions.

To broaden participation in the public peace process, we will:

  • encourage joint political activities, including Israelis and Palestinians of all three religions.
  • expand the activities of women's organizations on both sides to expose the consequences of human rights violations, especially for families and children.
  • more fully integrate Sephardic-Oriental Israelis into the peace process. Their unique historical and cultural experience of Jewish-Arab co-existence and their particular struggle for social justice and equality make them a natural bridge to the Arab world in general and the Palestinians in particular.
  • dramatize the costs of continuing conflict for the large segments of both societies.

These activities are illustrative and represent only those areas where we can have influence. As other individuals and organizations add their activities to the list, we will experience the breadth, depth, and momentum of a public peace process.

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Call to Join in a Public Peace Process

Many other Israelis and Palestinians have engaged in dialogues such as ours. Many are engaged in activities such as those mentioned above. We encourage all of them to step forward and to join hands with us openly and explicitly. We call on them and others-individuals and organizations-to help expand this framework and the public peace process through practical actions of their own.

We encourage and support all efforts of political leaders on both sides to reconstitute an active peace process among constituted governmental authorities.

At the same time, we believe that official negotiations can produce a genuinely peaceful relationship between Israelis and Palestinians only if they are embedded in a larger political process involving the peoples of both communities. That political process is what we call a "public peace process." In democratic bodies politic, a public peace process has the potential to generate, support, and intensify the governmental peace process. Our purpose is to make that public peace process a compelling political fact for all to see and feel.

Concerned citizens of other concerned countries have contributed much to our dialogue. We encourage them to join us in increasing numbers in this public peace process.

To produce a political environment in which our two peoples can move toward a peaceful relationship, we call on fellow citizens and organizations throughout our communities to add their own course of action until the public peace process constitutes an irresistible movement toward a peaceful Israeli-Palestinian relationship.

Invited Israeli Participants

Moshe Amirav: Member, Jerusalem City Council; Chairman, City Committee for East Jerusalem; Former member of the Likud Central Committee.

Shlomo Elbaz: Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Co-founder and Chairman, East for Peace.

Giora Ram Furman: Brigadier General, (Res.); Former Deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli Air Force; General Secretary, Kibbutz Haartzi Movement; Chairman, Council for Peace and Security in Israel.

Galit Hasan-Rokem: Professor of Hebrew Literature and Jewish Folklore, Hebrew University; Founding Member, Women's Network for Peace in Israel.

Moshe Ma'oz: Professor, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, Hebrew University; Advisor on Arab Affairs to Defense Minister Ezer Weizman and Prime Minister Shimon Peres.

Oded Megiddo: Lieutenant-Colonel, IDF (Res.); Owner and Director of a firm dealing with land development in rural Israel; Member, Council of the Shinui Party; Member, Council for Peace in Stages.

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Invited Palestinian Participants

Mamdouh al-Aker: Urological Surgeon; Founding Member, Mandela Institute for Political Prisoners; Board of Trustees of Friends School, Ramallah; Member, Israeli and Palestinian Physicians for Human Rights.

Rihab Essawi: Professor of Education, Hebron University; Former Director of the Union of Charitable Societies in Jerusalem. Former Director of the American Friends Service Committee Legal Aid Office in Jerusalem.

Bernard Sabella: Professor of Sociology, Bethlehem University; Member of the Board of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs.

Hanna Siniora: Editor, Al Fajr newspaper of East Jerusalem; President of the European-Palestinian Chamber of Commerce, Jerusalem; Nominated by the PLO as a member of a Palestinian delegation to peace talks in July 1985.

Invited Representative of the Palestine National Council

Nabeel Shaath: Chair, Political Committee of the Palestine National Council; Advisor to President Yasser Arafat on International Relations.


Harold Saunders: Director of International Programs, The Kettering Foundation; Former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.


Stanford Center on Conflict and Negotiation

The Beyond War Foundation


We, the participants, cosponsors, and moderator in this conference subscribe to the "Framework for a Public Peace Process" as an accurate reflection of the outcome of our dialogue. The purpose of the conference was not to produce a formal agreement, which can be negotiated only by duly-constituted authorities. The purpose was to demonstrate that Israelis and Palestinians could find common ground in the search for peace. We regard this document as the basis for continuing dialogue between the two communities and commend it to others as the basis for a similar dialogue. Nabeel Shaath, an official of the Palestine National Council, has stated in a letter to us that he is authorized by the Palestine Liberation Organization to endorse and support this document as a basis for future dialogue in the search for peace.

Invited Participants

Mamdouh al-Aker
Moshe Amirav
Shlomo Elbaz
Rihab Essawi
Giora Ram Furman
Galit Hasan-Rokem
Moshe Ma'oz
Oded Megiddo
Bernard Sabella
Hanna Siniora


Judith H. Kramer, Beyond War Foundation
Lee Ross, Stanford Center on Conflict and Negotiation


Harold H. Saunders

Palo Alto, California
July 19, 1991

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July 19, 1991

Dr. Harold H. Saunders
The Beyond War Foundation
The Stanford Center on Conflict and Negotiation

Dear Friends:

I have had great pleasure participating in the proceedings of the conference, "Building a Common Future." The discussions were most fruitful, involving a spirit of give and take and a commitment to work toward a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

I have received a copy of the Framework for a Public Peace Process, the valuable document that was produced by the participants, moderator and cosponsors of the conference. It gives me pleasure to say that I am authorized by the Palestine Liberation Organization to endorse and support this document as a valuable basis for future dialogue in the search for peace. I hope that it will be equally endorsed by a wider constituency of the Israeli public, seeing it as a real attempt to start a dialogue leading to peace and security for all Israelis and Palestinians as a key step toward peace in the Middle East.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all of you for making this conference a success and for producing such a fine document.

Sincerely yours,

Nabeel Shaath
Chairman, Political Committee
Palestine National Council


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