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MIT-Harvard Gaza Symposium issues statement on Palestinian issue

May 15, 2009

The statement is drawn from the presentations of the participants, a group of officials and scholars from Israel, Palestine, and the United States 

CAMBRIDGE, MA— The Israeli government should end the blockade of Gaza and negotiate with Hamas, and President Obama should engage more constructively on the Palestinian issue-including a demand to end the expansion of Israeli settlements—were among the findings and recommendations of a MIT-Harvard symposium on Gaza.

The symposium conveners released a joint statement today drawn from the presentations of the symposium's participants, a group of officials and scholars from Israel, Palestine, and the United States.

The 16 participants covered the current situation in Gaza, human rights and law, U.S. policy options, and reconstruction. The symposium, March 30-31, was organized by the Middle East Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School; the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences; University Committee on Human Rights Studies Human Rights Program at the Harvard Law School, and the MIT Center for International Studies.

Among the participants were Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA); Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories; Karma Nabulsi, Oxford University and former PLO representative; Meron Benvenisti, former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem; Craig Mokhiber, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Husam Zomlot, a Palestinian diplomat. (Full List)

"This remarkable group, with some differences of opinion, regards the siege of Gaza this past winter as a symptom of a larger malady-the 40-year occupation that President Obama must take steps to end," says John Tirman, Executive Director of the MIT Center for International Studies. "This statement is a sober and balanced attempt to inform the policy-making community of what this deplorable situation has been, and what steps can be taken as remedies."

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