Science

Five Miles and a World Apart, Younger Activists Dream of a New Peace Process

Though only 9 at the time, May Pundak knew that when her father was often away in the early 1990s, he was involved in some kind of mission for Israel, one so secret that she could not breathe a word about it to friends at school.

Her father, Ron Pundak, was in Norway conducting back-channel talks with Palestinians that resulted in the 1993 Oslo Accords, the foundation for the two-state solution that has long anchored the peace process, and that President Biden recently invoked as the answer to the latest war.

Now 38 and a human rights lawyer, Ms. Pundak wants to revamp the Oslo-centered process, which has been mostly stalled for three decades. While she labels her plan a “two-state solution 2.0,” it is some ways a repudiation of the vision that her father and his generation had espoused.

“The two-state solution has become — and I say this with a broken heart — an empty shell,” Ms. Pundak said. “It started as a promise of freedom and liberation for Palestinians, but it has transformed into multiple systems of oppression, a lack of hope, lack of vision and lack of future.”

Across the line that divides Israel from the West Bank, the same frustration is palpable in Rana Salman, a 39-year-old Palestinian activist who shares Ms. Pundak’s dream of a political settlement. Her father once commuted to Jerusalem, where he worked as a hotel cook. Now, Ms. Salman said, her family was stranded in its hometown, Bethlehem, by Israeli military roadblocks erected after the war broke out.

Yet Ms. Salman is not giving up: She, too, hopes that out of the trauma of the Hamas attacks and Israel’s war in Gaza, a new peace process can be born — one that takes account of how much has changed since the 1990s.

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