Political standstill and absence of women from decision-making positions in the Israeli Palestinian conflict main causes of distrust in peace
Women peace activists alone share hope for peace
In a joint conference with Itach – Women Lawyers for Social Justice, the International Women’s Commission (IWC) presents a report that provides worrisome insights into Israeli women’s positions on peace and the Israeli – Palestinian conflict.
“Women Confronting Peace – Voices from Israel” is the result of a three-year project, during which the IWC held 13 public hearings to document the voices of women of different backgrounds. The report was presented on December 3, at a conference entitled, “Women, Peace and Political Negotiations – The Voice Unheard“. Women from the Palestinian National Authority, the United Nations and Israel will share their opinions on the pervasive militaristic discourse that shapes the positions of many Israeli women.
The IWC has come to an unsettling conclusion: “Despite the fact that Jewish women are interested in meeting with Palestinian women, they perceive them as less maternal and unconcerned about their children’s safety.” The Commission also finds that “the exclusion of women’s perspectives from the security discourse that dominates Israeli-Palestinian relations prevents the development of an alternative feminist discourse.”
The International Women’s Commission brings together Palestinian, Israeli and international women dedicated to an end of the Israeli occupation and a just peace based on international law [including relevant UN resolutions], human rights and equality. The IWC aims to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through immediate final status negotiations leading to a viable, sovereign Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel on the June 4, 1967, borders. The IWC works for an ongoing and comprehensive reconciliation in order to realize a mutually secure and sustainable peace and co-existence.
One very interesting conclusion of the report reveals that women’s involvement in peace activism increases their commitment to ending the conflict through a feminist framework. These same women activists expressed their frustration at the inability to meet and connect with Palestinian women working for peace because of developments since the Second Intifada. .
“Jewish women in Israel are emotionally trapped inside the militaristic security discourse led by the Israeli political leadership. On the other hand, they are certain this discourse cannot bring peace” says Nourit Hajjaj, IWC member, and a co-writer of the report “Women Confronting Peace”.
The IWC highlights that fact that “for the first time in Israel, women’s voices are being heard, as mothers, citizens and activists; providing a forum of discussion on ways to bring these voices into the ongoing discourse on the conflict and its effect on their lives. Extensive international efforts by IWC aim at settling the conflict not only on the political level, but also through initiating opportunities for renewed hope in peace amidst an Israeli public trapped in a cycle of despair.”
Alongside these worrisome conclusions, the conference addressed the IWC’s appeal for increased representation of women’s viewpoints in political negotiations. This initiative is backed by UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which demands greater representation for women in all spheres and stages of decision-making processes, especially those aiming to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts.