The Call of the Leading Citizens of Israel to European Communities to Embrace the Palestinian State



Israeli senior officials and public figures to European leaders: Support Palestinian independence

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s horror show in Washington and the unequivocal support he received from the US congress may mark the end of the peace process. The only alternatives at this time are the Palestinian push towards independence or the risk of another surge of violence. In contrast to recent statements by Israeli and American officials, a unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence is consistent with fundamental Israeli interests. Moreover, it may rejuvenate the moribund peace process.

Following President Obama’s objection to the Palestinian declaration of independence, it is evident that the prospect of Palestinian statehood depends on the actions of key European governments.

Accordingly, a group of notable supporters of the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement – a prominent Israeli social and political grassroots movement which has led protests in East Jerusalem for the past two years – is calling upon European leaders to recognize Palestinian statehood in September 2011. Their open letter asserts that “in the face of endless procrastination and mutual distrust, a declaration of Palestinian independence is not only legitimate, but also a positive and constructive step for the benefit of the two nations.” The organizers will request meetings with ambassadors of European countries

The signatories include former senior officials such as former director of the Foreign Ministry Alon Liel, former Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair, former Ambassador to South Africa Ilan Baruch, former Civil Service Commissioner Itzhak Galnoor, and former Speaker of the Knesset and former chairman of the Jewish Agency Avrum Burg. Other signatories include Nobel Prize laureate Daniel Kahneman, Israel Prize laureates Avishai Margalit, Yirmiyahu Yovel, and Menachem Yaari (former president of the Israel Arts and Science Academy), and popular Israeli authorsNir Baram and Ronit Matalon.

“Netanyahu is dragging the entire region towards a period of intransigence and bloodshed while submitting to the most extreme elements in Israeli society,” says Avrum Burg. “As public figures and as members of Israel’s civil society, we are resolute to prevent this nightmare from materializing. Although the last week in Washington was high in rhetoric and devoid of content, we are not giving up and not caving in. We shall march together, Israelis and Palestinians, in nonviolent resistance, towards September and beyond. I call upon world leaders: the fire in the Middle East will is bound to flare up your societies as well. Disregard the empty rhetoric, pull up the sleeves, and make the only decision our region needs at this time: help the Palestinians establish a state of their own.”




The open letter:

Palestinian leaders have made clear their intention to ask the United Nations General Assembly to recognize the independence of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

This declaration is both a challenge and an opportunity for all sides. It is a decisive moment.

The failure of the international community and primarily of the United States to renew peace negotiations reflects an undeniable and disconcerting reality – peace has been taken captive by the “Peace Process”. The ongoing construction of settlements in the West Bank East-Jerusalem, and Israel’s refusal to freeze construction in the interest of negotiations indicate that the current leadership of Israel uses the peace process as a distraction maneuver rather than a means to conflict resolution.

In the face of endless procrastination and mutual distrust, a declaration of Palestinian independence is not only legitimate, but also a positive and constructive step for the benefit of the two nations.

As Israelis, we avow that if and when the Palestinian people declares independence in a sovereign state to exist side by side with Israel in peace and security we shall support such declaration. We will recognize a Palestinian state based on 1967 line, with necessary land swaps by a 1:1 ratio and with Jerusalem as the capital of both states. The Gaza strip should also be recognized as part of the Palestinian state as long as its leadership acknowledges Israel’s right to existence.

We call upon countries of the world to openly support the Palestinian declaration, based on the aforementioned principles.

Such a support may provide a framework for proper negotiations between the two sovereign states.


1. Lea Aini, author

2. Prof. Arie Arnon,

3. Prof. Bernard Avishai

4. Nir Baram, author

5. Ilan Baruch, former ambassador to South Africa

6. Michael Ben Yair, former Attorney General of Israel

7. Avraham Burg, former Speaker of the Knesset and former Chairman of the Jewish Agency

8. Prof. Sidra Dekoven-Ezrahi

9. Prof. Yitzhak Galnoor, former Civil Service Commissioner of Israel

10. Prof. Moshe Halbertal, co-author of the IDF ethical code

11. Prof. Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize laureate

12. Dr. Menachem Klein

13. Iris Leal, author

14. Dr. Alon Liel, former Director General of the Foreign Ministry

15. Prof. Avishai Margalit, Israel Prize laureate

16. Ronit Matalon, author

17. Prof. Yair Oron

18. Prof. David Shulman

19. Prof. Shulamit Volkov

20. Prof. Menachem Yaari, Israel Prize laureate, former President of the Israel Arts and Science Academy

21. Prof. Yirmiyahu Yovel, Israel Prize laureate



© Marc Gopin