Israeli intellectuals back Palestinian state

April 21, 2011

A declaration signed by dozens of prominent Israeli academics, writers and artists welcoming a Palestinian state on the basis of Israel’s 1967 borders was presented Thursday at the site of Israel’s 1948 proclamation of independence.

As the well-known Israeli actress Hanna Maron, who lost a leg in a Palestinian attack, read out the declaration outside Tel Aviv’s Independence Hall, protesters heckled the gathering, calling the participants traitors.

The declaration, which was issued in expectation of moves to recognize a Palestinian state at the United Nations in September, asserts that the end of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory “is a fundamental condition for the liberation of both peoples, for the fulfillment of the Israeli declaration of independence and for the independence of the State of Israel.”

Echoing the opening of Israel’s declaration of independence, the statement begins: “The land of Israel is the birthplace of the Jewish people, where its identity was shaped. The land of Palestine is the birthplace of the Palestinian people, where its identity was formed.”

The approximately 60 signatories to the document, titled “The Declaration of Independence from the Occupation,” included 17 recipients of the Israel Prize, the country’s highest honor.

Yaron Ezrahi, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and one of the organizers, told the gathering that the timing of the event during the Passover holiday, which marks the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery, “expresses the commitment of many Israelis not to pass over the freedom of the neighboring Palestinian people.”

Yehoshua Sobol, a playwright and signatory, said, “Palestinian independence is a guarantee that a bi-national state is not built on the ruins of the State of Israel.”

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