We are a group of Palestinians and Israelis who have taken an active part in the cycle of violence in our region: Israeli soldiers serving in the IDF and Palestinians as combatants fighting to free their country, Palestine, from the Israeli occupation. We – serving our peoples, raised weapons which we aimed at each other and saw each other only through gun sights – have established Combatants for Peace on the basis of the following principles:
- We believe that the conflict cannot be resolved, through military means, by either of the parties.
- We believe that only through joint action can we break the cycle of violence and put an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.
- We call for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, based on the border of June 4, 1967, alongside Israel. The two countries will prevail side by side in peace, security and good neighborly relations.
- Our direction is that of nonviolent struggle and we call on both nations to join us to achieve peace and reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis. We urge the political leadership to take bold steps to commence serious negotiations to end the conflict and desist from taking unilateral steps aimed at placing obstacles in the face of this goal and prolonging the conflict, including the construction of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, whose purpose is the perpetuation of the conflict and the blocking of any chance of real peace.
How We Operate
Combatants for Peace primarily works at the street level in the two communities, encouraging people to take joint Israeli-Palestinian action against the on-going occupation and violence. The Movement’s activities are based on a number of Israeli-Palestinian regional groups whose members work in the field and use various tools to provide collective opposition to Israeli military rule and to promote bi-national nonviolent interaction. In addition to group-level activities, Combatants for Peace holds in-house meetings and lectures to audiences on both sides and tours designed to expose to Israelis as many different aspects as possible of the military government in the territories. In addition, the Movement holds high media profile events designed to focus public attention on certain issues, such as the settlement expansion plan in the E2 region south of Jerusalem. The largest event held by the Movement is the joint annual Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day service in which we remember the victims of the conflict on both sides, while taking the burden of the conflict upon ourselves in an attempt to avert the next victims.
In all aspects of our activities, we are guided by the following principles:
- Autonomy – Combatants for Peace is a joint Palestinian-Israeli Movement but it acknowledges the existence of two separate peoples within it. Thus, the two national groups in Combatants for Peace have a certain degree of autonomy to manage their affairs in accordance with the Movement’s creed and goals, while taking into consideration political, social and cultural considerations of both of the two groups. Each group has the right to draw to the attention of the other group problems arising from its decisions or management methods, but is not permitted to actively interfere with internal decision-making processes of another group.
- Active Dialogue – Disagreements between the two sides shall be bridged by on-going dialogue that is based on patience and tolerance. Indeed, as a bi-national Movement, Combatants for Peace is based on dialogue, but it is not a dialogue group. Dialogue is means to consolidate the Movement and make it into a powerful political platform, capable of influencing political reality.
- Equality – Combatants for Peace acknowledges that there is no symmetry or equality in the political situation in the region as Israel is, by far, the stronger party. Nonetheless, Combatants for Peace challenges these power-relations and allocates equal authority to Palestinians and Israelis within the Movement. All non-paid functions in the Movement are filled by an equal number of Israelis and Palestinians and all decisions must be approved by both sides.
- Unequal Reciprocity – Since Combatants for Peace believes that the occupation is the main source of violence between Israelis and Palestinians we believe our immediate goal is to end the Israeli occupation. Nonetheless, we believe that the Palestinian side also carries responsibility for the conflict and its future. In accordance with this perspective, Combatants for Peace strives to influence both societies and to bring people from both sides to recognize that the occupation and the violence are ruinous to the future of all of us.
- Nonviolence – As Combatants for Peace believes that violence only leads to more violence all activities initiated by the Movement are peaceful by definition. Combatants for Peace members will not employ physical force even when such force is used against them. Our task is to better define a space in which Israelis and Palestinians can work together on the ground and, at the same time, not lose their contacts with the mainstream of their respective societies. It is important to emphasize that nonviolence does not mean passivity but rather, a mode of struggle that is intended to change the political reality.
- Empowerment – The empowering of Combatants for Peace activists in order to develop their leadership skills is not only a goal but a principle that guides Combatants for Peace’s daily work. Members are encouraged to take on responsibilities, fill organizational functions and lead projects and activities in all areas. This principle is as valid at the local groups’ level as it is for the entire Movement.
- Voluntarism – Combatants for Peace is a volunteer Movement that relies on the energy and time of its unpaid activists. Nonetheless, we hire professionals to fulfill specific functions.
- Inter - organizational Collaboration – Combatants for Peace considers itself part of a broader peace front and strives to play a leading role in consolidating this front into an effective political force. Combatants for Peace will actively search for opportunities to collaborate with other organizations and will be responsive to suggestions coming from other organizations.