I can give you a number of examples, if joint projects are what interest you most. For example, Palestinian elections "broke out" a month ago, and they'll be conducted in another two weeks time.
We have established contacts with Palestinian NGOs about the anticipated problems on election day, what obstacles there are to turning this into a genuine democratic process, what obstacles there are to getting out the vote, what obstacles might be put in place intentionally by the Israeli government, and what are the internal failings of the Palestinians in this regard, how do we deal with that. I will be addressing three groups of Palestinian community leaders next week on the problems entailed in the elections, and also the importance of the elections from an Israeli perspective. We're setting up a joint task force or situation room for Election Day in order to solve crises on the spot. We are training the two major groups of international observers, the National Democratic Institute
and the European Commission observers, on what they should anticipate on Election Day, and things of that nature. People get off the plane, start wandering around, they don't know where they are and they are supposed to be conducting the elections. They may be experts on elections, but they don't have the vaguest idea what East Jerusalem is about, and it operates differently here. So that's one example of a joint project. Just simply having dealt with the way the city functions for the last 14 years, we have an idea of what to anticipate. So that's one example.
One of the dirty little secrets of the last few years is that the Israeli withdrawal from East Jerusalem is under way. Now that may sound odd, because here we are, walling in Jerusalem for the first time since 1535.
That vacuum is not being filled with any kind of concerted political effort by the Palestinians. We have consequently found ourselves working with neighborhood associations in what we call self-empowerment, namely helping develop local community non-profit organizations that will develop a genuine constituency, a community agenda. Sometimes that means dealing with the implications of the wall, sometimes the lack of classrooms and things of that nature. It's Israelis and Palestinians - it's not something we're doing, it's something where we're sort of in the back seat with - we're helping to facilitate it and it has humanitarian implications in the present, making the city more viable here and now, but also political implications for the future, building the Palestinian municipality from the ground up. So this is an on-going effort; the elections come and go, we'll have another round shortly, but this is another example.
When you say "we," to whom are you referring?
We have a non-profit, a new NGO, called Ir Amim, which is coordinating a lot of these efforts. It is an Israeli organization intentionally, not necessarily a Jewish one, but an Israeli one.
We work opposite and with Palestinian partners.
I can give you another example. On Friday I'll be in court, [through my law office, not with Ir Amim] I'm representing a community of 30,000 people who are in Jerusalem who are about to be cut out from Jerusalem by the wall. I am probably the only Israeli who has ever conducted a town meeting in a refugee camp, or certainly in the Shu'fat Refugee Camp. We're working in order to stop this and offering alternatives and engaging in dialogue with the security authorities and things of that nature. So some of these things are dealing with acute problems when they erupt, but some of them are ongoing efforts to try to turn this into a more viable, sustainable city - knowing that my kids will be safe and that the city will be pleasant only if kids on the other side of town enjoy the same benefits. That's not the case now.