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Saturday, December 15, 2007


Solidarity Network Against the Occupation of Palestine

The Solidarity Network Against the Occupation of Palestine, which gathered in Alcorcón, Madrid, 14 December 2007 and in Leganés, Madrid, 15 December 2007, to participate in the Forum for a Just Peace in the Middle East, has decided to withdraw from the Forum and to suspend all the activities it had organized for the following reasons:

Since the beginning of the Forum, our Network voiced its concern over the lack of transparency and the way in which the Forum was developing. The Network considers that governments are obliged to respect and comply with international law and work towards a just peace for the Arab world, the end of all foreign occupation and colonial wars, instead of the manipulation of Forums proposed and developed by civil society.

Despite the opacity in the development of the Forum, the urgent need to advance towards a just peace led us to embrace the call of Palestinian organizations who asked us to participate in the Forum. Despite the Forum´s refusal that the Solidarity Network be part of the Permanent Committee, charged with organizing and administering the Forum, the Network continued working, and promoting the event, and organized three workshops.

Subsequent events have made it clear that the final objectives to which the Forum’s organisation has adhered to no longer correspond to the initial objectives and expectations that inspired it in the first place and that were directed at achieving a just peace for the Middle East.
Proof of this has been the inability to react to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has promoted the participation of Zionist delegations that were not included in the initial programme and that do not subscribe to the principles contained in the Reference Document of the Forum, thus leading to its cancellation.

The Network considers that the only solution to perpetual conflict and occupation in the Arab world rests in the application of International Law, Human Rights and United Nations resolutions.

We therefore require the international community, and concretely the Spanish government, to urgently adopt the following measures, aimed at restoring stable sociopolitical and economic conditions for the Palestinian people and ensuring Israel comply with International Law:

1. The suspension of the European Union-Israel association agreement.
2. A total halt to all trade and military exchanges with Israel.
3. The suspension of EU member states and the World Bank funding used by Israel in the construction of infrastructure necessary to the completion of the Apartheid Wall.
4. The end of the Israeli siege on Gaza, which counts with the support of its inconditional ally, the US, and the EU’s permissivity. The end to the economic sanctions imposed on the Palestinian people, and the recognition of the democratically elected and legal government in Palestine.

In these demands we express our solidarity with the principled decision taken by the Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese delegations, as well as other international representatives, to not attend the Forum and participate in the normalization of the racist and colonial regime of Israel.


Received by email:

Why I Will Not Participate in the Madrid Social Forum for a Just Peace
in the Middle East Print E-mail
Written by Michael Warschawski, Alternative Information Center (AIC)
Thursday, 13 December 2007

I have no problem in taking part in a conference where Zionist
spokespersons are invited too, for debates are part and parcel of a
healthy political arena. As well, I have no problem being invited to
official public meetings, initiated by government agencies, including
Israeli ones. I need, however, to know exactly what kind of gathering I
am supposed to participate.

By its own definition, the Madrid Social Forum for a Just Peace in the
Middle East belongs to the family of "social forums," as defined in the
Porto Allegre Charter, i.e. a forum of grassroots and popular
organizations, without any involvement of State's agencies, political
parties (or armed-organizations). The Alternative Information Center
(AIC), together with PNGO (Palestinian NGOs coordination), Ittijah, the
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and the Israeli
Women Coalition for a Just Peace were much involved in the International
Committee that was established in order to assist the local committee in
shaping the forum and fixing the list of the invited organizations.
Whoever has been involved in Middle East progressive politics is aware
that the list is a major political issue: most Arab organizations,
including Palestinian ones, do not participate in political gatherings
with Israeli organizations that don't support Palestinian rights, as
defined by the United Nations and international law, including,
obviously, the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees. This
excludes most of the Israeli Zionist organizations.

In order to avoid any misunderstanding, the Madrid organizing committee
and the international committee issued, at an early stage, a Declaration
of Principles that defined the political framework of the Madrid Social
Forum. On the basis of that Declaration of Principles, the Israeli
delegation was designed and the speakers for the various plenaries were
selected. In a nutshell, Madrid is the first big international
Anti-Annapolis conference, and this is why it is so important.

The composition of the delegations, however, especially the Israeli one,
didn't satisfy the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs… or the Peres
Peace Center. Obviously, the Spanish government has the right to
sympathize more with Zionist organizations, and it can organize its own
conference. Nevertheless, it cannot interfere in the Social Forum. Two
months ago, I wrote on the AIC website:

The involvement of a government ministry in a social forum is, in and of
itself, a serious violation of the Porto Alegre charter, which
established the absolute independence of the social forums from the
government. Yet the problem is not only statutory but absolutely
political: what are bodies that openly support neoliberalism and the war
doing with a conference that is entirely in opposition to neoliberalism
and the war??!!! This is not the first time that this quasi-governmental
entity attempts to sneak into a conference of non-governmental
organizations, and we have reviewed other attempts in the past […].
However, this time the matter is more serious, as a majority of the
participants perceive the forum in Madrid as being anti-Annapolis, and
it is unacceptable that blatant supporters of Annapolis will be present
to seek converts for their plan of war, a plan being created right
before our eyes (" Anti-Annapolis in Madrid ," 29 November 2007).

In an unacceptable procedure, the Spanish Foreign Ministry established a
parallel Israeli delegation, bigger than the official one, aimed to
change the agenda of the Madrid Social Forum from an Anti-Annapolis
conference to an "all inclusive" gathering, discussing the pro and
against of the war plans shaped in Annapolis by George W. Bush and Ehud
Olmert. The procedure is unacceptable, the content is outrageous.

As a result, the Palestinian delegation decided, at the last moment, to
boycott the Forum, as did participants from other parts of the Arab
world. One can object that the protest should have done in Madrid
itself, at the site of the Forum, including boycotting it. This was,
however, the decision of PNGO, and, while driving to the airport on my
way to Madrid, I got the information and took the decision to return to
Jerusalem, in solidarity with the Palestinian civil society organizations.

One should not underestimate what is at stake. It is not a matter of
this or that person or organization being present at the Madrid Social
Forum; it is not even the question of the heavy involvement of the
Spanish government in a Social Forum. It is the question of War and
Peace in the Middle East, what George W. Bush calls World War III, the
core political issue of the moment!

In Annapolis, the United States and their allies have finalized the
plans of the next war, not hesitating even to speak about nuclear
strikes. It is a war against Iran, against Lebanon and Hezbollah,
against Hamas and the Palestinian people, part of the global war planned
by the neoconservatives of Washington and Tel Aviv.

The world today is divided between the supporters of such a war and
those who oppose it: the line that divides them should be hermetic,
because it is the line separating freedom from oppression, peaceful
coexistence from aggression, life from death.

Some of the newly-invited Israeli organizations to Madrid are, to say
the least, not fully opposed to the war plans of their government or
their US godfather. To mention only two: Shimon Peres (founder of the
Peres Peace Center) is calling for a preemptive war against Iran after
having supported the last aggression against Lebanon; Peace Now
supported the war in Lebanon in summer 2006—that is, until it became a
military fiasco. It is a matter of private ethics: I do not want, today,
to be in the same forum with such people. The blood of the martyrs of
Tyre and Bint Jbail is not dry yet, and the noises of the next war, a
war that they will undoubtedly support, are already in our ears.

Post Scriptum: We must emphasize how unacceptable the role played by
some of our Israeli colleagues has been in this. They have crossed the
lines, back and forth, between the civil society organizations and the
Spanish Foreign Ministry, creating the whole mess and provoking the

decision of the Palestinian organizations to boycott the Forum.

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