Posted by Guest on November 14, 2017 in Blog

by Sarah Seniuk

Conflict in Jerusalem was highlighted in a dialogue hosted by the Foundation for Middle East Peace featuring Jerusalem expert Daniel Seidemann, Ori Nir from Americans for Peace Now, and Dr. James Zogby of the Arab American Institute. Each panelist emphasized the necessity to re-center divisions in Jerusalem and the experiences of Palestinians in the city when unpacking how to move forward on broader Israeli-Palestinian peace.  

Echoed across the panel was the unbudging attitude and policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with Seidemann declaring that Netanyahu was not and would not be interested in a two-state solution. Zogby agreed and described Netanyahu as a “malevolent maneuverer.” The popularity of Donald Trump, the first US president to back away from opposing Israeli settlements, among the Israeli public seems to highlight the difficulty in making progress towards a peace agreement. Nir noted that the Trump administration both refuses to discuss a two-state solution in public, and in closed-door negotiations. When addressing the role of the US in mediating negotiations, Zogby contended that the US has role to play, but that the current domestic political climate makes him pessimistic.

Seidemann argued that Palestinian lives will only matter when Israel stops being an occupying force, and suggested that Israel itself cannot survive in the long term by being an occupier. With the panel unified on the dangerous climate for Palestinians, Zogby said there was an urgency to addressing the immediate impact of the situation on Palestinian rights. Moderator Lara Friedman from the Foundation for Middle East Peace and Zogby noted that there is significant progress being made at the grassroots activist level around the US and the world as young progressives are becoming more aware of the plight of Palestinians as an issue of fundamental justice and human rights.

You can watch the full panel discussion on our Facebook page here.

Sarah Seniuk is a 2017 fall intern at the Arab American Institute.