II. Seeking Peace Bulletin
NEW CENTER FOR DIALOGUE IN JERUSALEM SET TO OPEN
On Friday, December 28th, members of the "Israeli-Palestinian Coalition for Peace" will come together to inaugurate a new center for dialogue in Jerusalem. Participants will include Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, the Palestinian representative in Jerusalem, Dr.Yossi Beilin, MK Yossi Sarid and author David Grossman.(Peace Now, 12/26/01)
NEW PALESTINIAN POLL: SLIGHLTY MORE ENCOURAGING
In a poll released on December 26, 2001, by the Palestinian Center for Survey and Policy Research, 60% of Palestinians support a cease-fire as proposed by Yasser Arafat. 71% support an immediate return to negotiations with Israel. 73% of Palestinians support reconciliation with Israelis after reaching a peace agreement based on the creation of a Palestinian state. In a separate poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, 54.4% support an immediate cease-fire. Yet, a similar number, 54.2% support continuing with the Intifada. (Jerusalem Post, 12/267/01; Yediot Achronot, 12/27/01)
NEW CENTERS FOR SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
Two new centers for survivors of rape and sexual assault will be opening in Israel in the coming year. One will be in Haifa and other in Be’er Sheva. These centers were created to better serve the victims of sexual assault by putting under one roof all the individuals women need to meet with: doctors, policemen, social workers, and psychologists. Usually, women are required to run around from each location to meet with various individuals.
MK Zahava Gal-On from the Meretz party is the brainchild behind these centers. She had been working for the past two yeas on getting funding from both the finance and health ministries. NIS 750,000 (approximately $185,000 USD) is being allocated for each center.(Ha’aretz, 12/8/01)
MUSLIM WOMEN WIN DIVORCE RIGHTS IN ISRAEL’S CIVIL COURTS
After a six year battle, the Personal Status Coalition has won Muslim women the right under law to appeal divorce proceedings to civil courts. Third and final readings of the law took place on November 3.
Until now, Arab women could divorce only in the Muslim courts, which often assume they are at fault. They have to endure humiliating court proceedings and community ostracism; divorced women retain no child custody rights and suffer financially.
The Personal Status Coalition will conduct an information campaign to make Muslim women aware of their rights, as well as a general public education program. (New Israel Fund, 11/26/01)
1.16 MILLION ISRAELS LIVE BELOW THE POVERTY LINE...
The National Insurance Institute recently released new poverty statistics for Israel. Although the economy showed a 6% growth rate, the percentage of poor families remained unchanged from the previous year. 1.16 million Israelis lived below the poverty line in 2000, as compared to 1.13 million in 1999. The poverty line is defined as 50% of median available income, NIS 4,282 (about $1000 USD) for a family of four. (Ha’aretz, 12/20/01)
...WHILE POVERTY FOR CHILDREN IN ISRAEL IS UP...
The National Council for the Child released a report earlier this week, in which it showed that 25% of Israeli children are below the poverty line, higher than any other year. According to the report, non-Jewish children are the hardest hit: 52% of non-Jewish children live under the poverty line, compared to 17% of Jewish children; 5.4% of Arab two-year olds attend nursery school, compared to 66.7% of Jewish children the same age.
Yitzhak Kadman, head of the National Council for the Child, was quoted as saying: "Some of the statistics in the Arab, immigrant and periphery populations are almost reminiscent of the data you would find in any developed country." In fact, when comparing Israel with the leading 24 rich countries, Israel is ranked 23rd in child poverty, followed only by Mexico. (Jerusalem Post, 12/26/01)
...AND ACUTE POVERTY EXISTS IN THE TERRITORIES
According to Terje Roed-Larsen, the United Nations envoy to the Middle East, nearly half the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are living on less than $2 a day. He added that the economy in the territories has suffered a "$3.4 billion loss" since the Intifada began.(Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 12/24/01)
ROADBLOCKS NOT HEALTHY FOR ISRAELI SOLDIERS
The roadblocks that separate Israel and the territories are having a detrimental effect on the IDF soldiers who must man them, the Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronoth recently reported. Out of the 40 soldiers that oversee the roadblock at Tarkumiya, nearly half have sought out psychological counseling and 8 have gone AWOL (absent without leave).
Some of the complaints concerned the fact that the soldiers only received a short, 2-day leave every two weeks. Many also complained to psychologists that they felt like "guard dogs." (Yediot Achronoth, 12/19/01)