Palestinians celebrate the release of prisoners in Gaza 311R.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)
In the second incident of its kind in the past week, Palestinian political
activists Tuesday thwarted a meeting between Israelis and Palestinians in east
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The activists are opposed to such meetings under the pretext
that they are designed to promote “normalization” between Palestinians and
Tuesday’s meeting was initiated by the Palestine-Israel
Journal, a non-profit organization founded in 1994 by Ziad Abu Zayyad and Victor
Cygielman, two prominent Palestinian and Israeli journalists.
is also a former Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs.
states that its main goal is to encourage dialogue between the civil societies
and broaden the base of support for the peace process.
“It was obvious
from the start that, alongside the institutional efforts of Palestinians and
Israelis, channels of communication must be opened for academics and other
intellectuals, opinion and policy makers, grassroots organizations and activists
to voice their views and take part in the public debate for a democratic and
just solution to the conflict,” the Palestine- Israel Journal states on its web
The title of Tuesday’s meeting was the “Arab Spring’s impact on the
However, the event was called off at the
last minute after the organizers learned that a group of Palestinian activists
belonging to various factions, including Fatah, PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s
party, was planning to stage a demonstration in front of the conference
“As a result of circumstances beyond our control, we regret to
announce that the conference scheduled to take place today is postponed,” the
organizers said in a statement.
This was the second time that Israelis
and Palestinians were forced to cancel a joint event as a result of pressure and
threats from Palestinian activists in east Jerusalem.
Last week, another
organization called the Israeli Palestinian Confederation was forced to cancel a
conference at the Ambassador Hotel in east Jerusalem after scores of
Palestinians demonstrated outside the building. Some of the protesters stormed
the hotel and confiscated leaflets and signs belonging to the
Al Quds University President Sari Nusseibeh, who was
invited to address the conference, did not show up after receiving threats from
the anti- “normalization” activists.
The Israelis who were supposed to
attend the conference included Shlomo Ben-Ami, a former foreign minister, and
left-wing activists Uri Avnery and Ruth Dayan.
Earlier this week, Hatem
Abdel Kader, a senior Fatah operative, announced that his faction has declared
“war” on meetings aimed at promoting “normalization” with Israel.
Kader told The Jerusalem Post that such meetings were being exploited by Israel
to create the impression that there is some kind of dialogue going on between
the two sides despite the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to return to the
negotiating table unless its conditions are met – cessation of settlement
construction and recognition of the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a two-state
Abdel Kader told the Post that early Tuesday he received a
phone call from the Jerusalem Police asking him to report for interrogation in
wake of his “anti-normalization” campaign.
Nusseibeh denied Tuesday that
the purpose of last week’s conference was to promote “normalization” between
Israeli and Palestinian academics.
“On the contrary – the goal was to end
the occupation and lay a mechanism for a better future for both sides,” he wrote
in an article published in the Palestinian daily Al Quds.
He said that
those who resorted to violence to foil the conference caused damage to the
Palestinian leadership by making it appear as if it’s not interested in
“I believe that this is one of the diseases that harms our general
political situation,” Nusseibeh charged. “We are being exposed to this [disease]
by those who claim that they are educated, but are ignorant.”