Coalition of Palestinian and Israeli Women Push Bi-Lateral Talks

May 26, 2006


On May 26, 2006 Women's eNews reported, "As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appears increasingly intractable, a group of women are pressing bilateral spirit into a peace process they say still stands a chance of revival. To keep the hope of peace alive, Israelis and Palestinians must engage in genuine negotiations, warned members of the International Women's Commission, a coalition of 60 female activists and government officials, two-thirds of whom are Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. 'Unilateralism is not the answer,' read a joint statement issued earlier this month by the women, who came to the United States the first week in May to build support for a process requiring both sides of the dispute to redraw the West Bank borders... 'It's very hard to get domestic women's organizations to do as much international work as they used to do,' said Jessica Neuwirth, president of Equality Now, a New York-based international women's rights organization that is also working with the commission. 'They are all supportive; they just feel like they're under siege in so many different ways.' The commission--composed of prominent Israeli, Palestinian and international women-- was founded upon ideas set forth in Resolution 1325, which passed the United Nations Security Council in 2000. It urges member states to involve more women in government efforts to prevent, manage and resolve conflict. Some women have played key roles in peace negotiations in the Middle East, said Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian peace activist and literature professor, was involved in earlier stages of the process when Palestine was engaged, and Rice and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are now involved in negotiations between Israel and the United States. But that 'does not change the reality that in the Middle East and in the United States, like in every other region of the world, women are underrepresented' in peace talks, Bennis said."