Grassroots movements rise to craft other road maps

NEW YORK — A group of Israeli and Palestinian moderates hope the "people's road map" to peace they unveiled last week will draw hundreds of thousands of backers.

Unlike previous peace plans, this one is slated to go before the Israeli and Palestinian people, who will vote on its content.

"This is the mother of all polls," said Mohammad Darawshe, an Israeli Arab political strategist and one of the plan's authors.

Officially called OneVoice, the campaign was co-authored by Daniel Lubetzky, a Mexican Jew who in the mid-1990s launched an Israeli-Palestinian food distribution company known as PeaceWorks.

Darawshe and Lubetzky detailed their plan during a news conference May 13 at the New York headquarters of billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

"We want to achieve a concrete vision of what are the self-interests of the Israelis and what are the self-interests of the Palestinians, and where do they meet," Lubetzky said.

OneVoice is the most recent example of a new crop of popular peace movements that has sprung up in recent weeks.

The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace recently launched a national petition drive for a plan that would pay to move Jewish settlers back inside pre-1967 Israel.

And on May 14, the Tikkun Community, an offshoot of Michael Lerner's Tikkun magazine, announced a "National Teach-In to Congress" slated for June 1 to 4 in Washington. That event, announced in a full-page ad in The New York Times, includes a national petition drive. It urges Congress to back an international buffer of "neutral forces" between Israeli and Palestinian troops, seeks return of Israel to its pre-1967 borders; advocates creation of a Palestinian state, seeks compensation for Palestinian refugees from Israel's 1948 War of Independence and for Jews forced to flee "persecution" in the Muslim world, and wants a "truth and reconciliation commission" to oversee steps toward peace.

The efforts drew mixed reactions.

Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, said the crux of the conflict does not rest in Jewish settlements or "road maps" to peace.

"After 10 years of a regime that promotes murder and hatred in the entire culture, that orders and finances the murder of Israelis and doesn't arrest the killers," those behind efforts such as OneVoice "don't understand that the issue is Israel's existence," Klein said.

By the end of the summer, OneVoice hopes to convince 10,000 Israelis and Palestinians to sign a statement of "principles for reconciliation" that would get both sides to back a two-state peace plan and stir new trust.

So far, it has collected signatures from more than 1,550 Israelis and Palestinians.

Last week's announcement kicked off a major telephone, newspaper, TV and online media campaign, largely in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Group leaders say they hope to raise $5 million for the effort.

OneVoice has won some major backing already. IBM kicked in $450,000 for a Web site — — where Israelis and Palestinians will be able to vote on the standards for peace.

For the plan's next phase, OneVoice assembled a team of Israeli and Palestinian academic and political experts who were involved in past Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, including the 1991 Madrid summit to the 2000 Camp David talks. Those experts will draft a one-page, 10-point plan that will go before Israelis and Palestinians in a referendum known as the "People's Mandate."

People who backed the original statement will be able to vote online for the new document.

Experts then will reconvene to negotiate a final document based on the popular priorities.