Alternative Palestinian Agenda


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Wisconsin State Journal

UW-Madison Student Proposes Peace Plan

A Palestinian from Jenin calls for Israeli and Palestinian state in a federal union

By Beth Williams

Despite seeing the ruble of his hometown of Jenin on television, Nasser Abufarha believes there can be peace between Israelis and Palestinians

"What we really need to understand is that Palestinians and Israelis today comprise integral components of the same space," Abufarha said. "The resolution to the conflict lies in developing ways to share the space both consider very dear."

That's why the UW-Madison anthropology grad student spent more than two years travelling back and forth between the US and the Mid east researching his plan for peace.

Abufarha presented what he calls the Alternative Palestinian Agenda at a UW-Madison forum this month.

The Agenda calls for the creation of an Israeli state and a Palestinian State with borders drawn based on the population of an area. Each state would have its own government to manage law and order within the state, education and social services. Both states could have their own holidays and keep their own customs.

But the states would also be in a federal union managed from a shared Jerusalem. The federal union of Palestine-Israel would have a senate and parliament to manage to foreign policy and external security. The states would have one unified army and the federal union would be responsible for managing relations between the states.

After a transitional period, people could live in either state subject to its laws.

Abufarha and other students and professors who believe in the proposal have posted it on the internet and sent it to activists and experts worldwide.

UW-Madison psychology professor Arthur Glenberg said the proposal recognizes the Israeli need for security and the Palestinian need for a homeland. "There are these very strong aspirations of the Israelis and very strong aspirations of the Palestinians," he said. "the aspirations cannot be met independently. They are in fact interconnected."

But both Abufarha and Glenberg it wont be easy to get people to talk about this proposal for peace.

"The prospects aren't good," said Michael Barnett, a UW-Madison political science professor. "Right now both parties would prefer to fight… Both sides are just scared for their lives and don't trust the other side."

Trust is a required element of Abufarha's peace plan.

UW-Madison freshman, Ilad Amir was born in Haifa and he said Israelis are frightened of giving the Palestinians a state they could use to attack Israeli. "A day later I see ships loaded with fifty tons of weapons pulling into the future Palestine coming to destroy me and that's going to scare me," Amir said.

Rick Woolman, a UW -Madison junior and president of Madison-Israel Public Affairs Committee, said there is still hope for peace in the region but no one is sure how to get there.

"I don't think anyone has a clear understanding of what the right thing is to do," he said.

An expert on the Middle East, Barnett said both sides probably won't be able to decide how to achieve peace unless the United States and other countries take a more active role in the conflict.

"My personal opinion is you're going to have to have an imposed settlement," he said. "Because the parties aren't going to be able to do it themselves."






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