Members of the International Women’s Commission met with other women
leaders at the UN Wednesday to discuss reopening peace talks between
Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Results were generally positive,
drawing solid support from Finnish and rotating EU President Tarja
Halonen, who offered to see about developing a special task force to
discuss their proposals.

In support of the Arab League’s 2002 peace initiative, which calls for a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, the women emphasized the need to avoid interim agreements and short insignificant stages, but instead address the more difficult questions first.  The very nature of the current peace settlement model ensures that once the easy problems are solved, the hard ones are left to more, usually futile negotiations, thus stalling the entire process.

"One keeps coming up with interim agreements and phases and stages, and what happens, of course, in the interim is that those who are trying to torpedo an agreement have all the possibility of acting," Israeli professor Galia Golan said.

And for this reason they maintain that the issue of boundaries, a shared Jerusalem capital and the question of refugees must be dealt with first. 

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of IWC and the Palestinian Legislative Council, is positive about the fact that Israel accepted an expanded international force in Lebanon, perhaps an indication that Israel will accept more international participation in the peace process.

However, in complete opposition to the Arab peace initiative and similarly to IWC’s goals, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s statement on Wednesday that the “Two-state solution does not mean withdrawing to the borders of 1967,” could likely lead to disappointing results.

But IWC members are taking advantage of the serious discussions taking place about the war in Lebanon, expecting that they will lead to renewed negotiations on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The war in Lebanon brought a conflict, perceived to be somewhat insignificant and narrow, to the world stage because it threatened to destabilize the whole region.

The commission was formed in 2005 to redirect world attention to UN resolution 1325, which encourages women to participate in conflict resolution in the Middle East.  Its members are all women and include Israeli and Palestinian officials and other leaders from around the world.

IWC members define women as having a different approach to conflict, that they are more concerned with food and shelter and human rights issues then military solutions.

Ashrawi said that, as women, the members of the commission bring an awareness of "human value" to the thinking on peace.  She added, “This is not an exercise in virtuosity or power.  This is not a process for its own sake…. We’re dealing with our lives.”

Sourced from Haaretz