For more than six decades, the Arab-Israeli conflict has been given an enormous amount of attention by the world and attracts a disproportionate amount of coverage in the media. Much of the dialog is driven by a lack of understanding of basic issues and misleading terminology. We will examine commonly-held myths, including false information propagated by figures as prominent as a former president of the U.S., and negotiating teams will attempt to come up with a reasonable agreement ending the Palestinian Arab-Israeli portion of the conflict.
During the first session, we will briefly recap the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and explain the key issues that must be resolved between the Palestinian Arabs and Israelis. The participants will be divided into groups, each containing one team to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian Arabs, one team to negotiate on behalf of the Israelis and a mediator. Each team will consist of three or four negotiators.
The recap will be extremely brief and incomplete. Those unfamiliar with the history will probably want to refer to some of the suggested resources to prepare for their negotiations. The first 35 minutes (approximately) will be set aside for the recap, about 35 minutes will be used for an explanation of the key issues and the remaining time (approximately 20 minutes) devoted to organizing the groups.
Core Issues: A brief summary of the core issues. A hard copy will be distributed at the first session.
During each of the second and third sessions, about 35 minutes will be devoted to a discussion of myths, followed by about 35 minutes during which each of the groups will conduct negotiations. During the last 20 minutes, the groups will briefly report on their experience and any progress.
The fourth session will be similar, but negotiations will proceed with the knowledge that this is the last chance (during this course) to come to an agreement.
If any of the groups actually reach a written agreement and so desire, that agreement will be publicly posted here.
The first three are direct quotes, which were brought up at the second session. Each includes a link to an article in which the quote appears.
The fourth is a paragraph from an article, most of which appeared in an article published in the Waterbury Republican-American under the title "Abbas: Statehood would clear slate with Israel." The article itself does not contain enough direct quotes to determine exactly what Abbas said or what he meant and it is far from clear that the headline accurately reflects Abbas' remarks. A careful reading shows no contradiction with Abbas' frequent insistence that he will make no concessions on any core issues.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, July 8, 2010:
"I use this forum today to say, President Abbas, meet me, and let's talk peace. We all have our grievances. We all have our, you know, our questions and things that we want answered. But the most important thing is to get together, sit down in a room and begin to negotiate peace. You cannot resolve a conflict, you cannot successfully complete a peace negotiation if you don't start it. And I say let's start it right now, today, tomorrow, in Jerusalem, in Ramallah or anywhere else. I'm prepared to go to a warm city like New York or a cool city anywhere. Let's get on with the business of talking peace and concluding the peace agreement"Palestinian Authority Chair Mahmoud Abbas, September 6, 2010:
"If they demand concessions on the rights of the refugees or the 1967 borders, I will quit. I can't allow myself to make even one concession."Palestinian Authority Chair Mahmoud Abbas, October 15, 2010:
"If we showed flexibility on these [core] issues the peace agreement would have been signed a long time ago."Associated Press Report, also published in Waterbury Republican-American, October 18, 2010:
However, in an apparent attempt to reach out to Israeli public opinion, he [Abbas] said that once the Palestinians have established their state in the 1967 borders, "there is another important thing to end, the conflict, and we are ready for that, to end the historic demands."