by Leah Willis
On Wednesday, February 27, S.J. Quinney College of Law Professors Amos Guiora and Chibli Mallat will debate the resolution: “A united federal democratic state over the historical territory of Israel-Palestine, rather than a two-state solution, is the way to lasting peace in the Middle East.” Mallat will argue in favor of the resolution; Guiora will take the opposite position and argue against it.
The event, titled the “Israel-Palestine Peace Talk Debate and Discussion,” will address the centuries-old political and religious fragmentation that continues to challenge the development of peaceful co-existence between the nations. It is organized by Global Justice through Research, a group of students comprising the law school’s international law think tank. Quinney College Dean Hiram Chodosh directs the think tank; an international law expert, Chodosh also will moderate the debate.
According to Global Justice participant Rich Roberts, a third-year student at the College, the recent involvement of the U.S. government in Israel-Palestine peace talks inspired the think tank to consider this issue. The U.S. played host in November of 2007 to the Annapolis Conference, where the American government acted as the primary mediator of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict discussion. The summit marked the first time that the Israelis and the Palestinians acknowledged a “two-state solution” as the likely resolution.
“Coming on the heels of last fall’s Annapolis Conference and the more recent efforts by Bush and [Secretary of State Condoleeza] Rice to press for ongoing dialogue between the two sides, this debate offers a rich opportunity for our local community to gain much- needed insight into the conflict, as well as to participate in a local discussion of these issues,” explains Roberts.
Debate organizers emphasize that the Middle East conflict has immediate implications not only for our federal government, but also for all individuals engaged in the impartial promulgation of peace. Roberts says: “As we grow into and move around the 21st century, the reality of global “flatness”€¦and the increasing cross-insemination ”or cross-contamination”of cultures (language, custom, ideas, and practices), businesses, governments, and, not the least of which, peoples, there is a heightened awareness of global impact. In other words, the conflict in Israel and Palestine is no longer isolated. Rather, in very real and concrete ways this conflict affects our lives. Lawyers and law students, though, also are uniquely impacted by the question of justice, the question of peace.”
Mallat also highlights the domestic importance of the international conflict, stating: “Since the massacre of 3000 civilians on September 11, the Middle East has become part and parcel, in the cruelest manner, of American daily life.” As a candidate to the Lebanese presidency, Mallat hopes to shed light on “human rights and equality, over walls of separation – real or virtual (as in states).”
Guiora, who brings to the discussion 19 years of experience as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Israeli Defense Forces, says he aims to elucidate “the realities on the ground and to suggest possible ways to move forward in terms of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The debate will take place at 12:00 p.m. in the Sutherland Moot Courtroom at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. Attendance is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided.