Peace Among Friends? In Once Strife-Torn Hebron, Jews and Arabs Say it's Possible
- Hebron is often known
as one of the most volatilecities in the West Bank.
But here in what's also the most
prosperous Palestinian Arab city,
a different kind of peacebetween Israelis and Palestinians
is discussed on both sides.
Noam Arnon speaks for theJewish community in Hebron.
There are now how many Jewsliving in Hebron, approximately?
- Well, it's about 800.
- Surrounded by howmany thousands of Arabs?
- About 200,000 Arabs but you see
this is actually thesame percentage as Jews
in the Middle East.
- Those Jews live mostlyin a historic sector
separated from the Palestinian population.
Arnon took me to meethis friend Ashraf Ja'abri
in the Arab sector.
Ja'abri an Arab, the leader here
heads a powerful familyclan of some 30,000.
We're in Hebron, howlong have you lived here?
- [Interpreter] 43 years.
- [Scott] One wife.
- One wife.
- How many children?
- Nine.- Nine, you look too young.
- I have only eight,
so has more reach than me.
- Ja'abri and Arnon hadbeen friends for 30 years.
After our initial exchange,Ja'abri preferred to speak
mostly in Hebrew.
You two are friends, you'rean Arab and he is a Jew.
- Why are you friends?
- [Interpreter] He's our neighbor.
- And you get along together.
- So it is possible for Jews and Arabs
to live together in friendshipwithout any conflict.
- [Interpreter] Yes, without any doubt.
30 years ago, we were working together
doing business together.
- Why don't more Jews andArabs live as you live
with your friend?
- [Interpreter] Becauseof the politicians.
- [Scott] More than 25 years ago,
Israel opened the door for Yasser Arafat
and the PalestinianLiberation Organization or PLO
from Tunis by recognizing themas the soul representative
of the Palestinian people in negotiation.
Arafat and then IsraeliPrime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
signed the Oslo Accords onthe White House lawn in 1993,
creating the PalestinianAuthority out of the PLO
to govern the Palestinians.
The aim, to end theIsraeli-Palestinian conflict
and eventually establisha Palestinian state
in Biblical Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Ja'abri says it hasn't worked.
- [Interpreter] The PLOsigned the Oslo agreements
25 years ago, until todaywe didn't reach peace,
it's the opposite.
We started with a very big problem.
- In the Oslo Accord,the Israeli government
have brought the PLO tocontrol the local population.
And they said you bringthose people the corrupted
and the terrorists to control us, why?
I feel ashamed about it.
We disappointed them, we betrayed them.
- What did the PLO think of you?
- [Interpreter] I don't carewhat the PLO thinks about me.
What's important for me ishow we can all live together
in this area in the State of Israel.
If we follow their way we won't have peace
even in the next 50 years.
- [Scott] And he says,there has to be another way.
- [Interpreter] How will we live together
under the government of Israel?
In the end, this is the only solution.
- Do you feel the Israelisare fair and they're just?
- [Interpreter] Basically, yes,but there's a huge pressure
on the Israeli government.
Before the Oslo Accords,the whole country was free
without checkpoints, without anything.
- So the Oslo Accordwas not a good accord?
- [Interpreter] No onefrom the two peoples
- Have you been able toinfluence other Arabs
and other leaders to your way of thinking?
- [Interpreter] Yes, of course.
90% of the Palestinian people
are looking for their own future.
- Even though Ja'abri says the masses
want a change, saying sowould get them in trouble
with the Palestinian Authority.
Have your enemies threatened you?
- [Interpreter] We'renot afraid of anyone.
We speak from our hearts,we speak the truth.
- Do you have hope for thefuture for peace in the land?
- [Interpreter] Of course, there's hope
but we have to continue in the way
of real peace from both sides.
The problem between usis a political problem.
- Ja'abri who is a businessman
and other Palestinian-Israelibusinessmen have ideas
about how to make personto person relations work
and they want the world to help.
- [Interpreter] We establish anon-profit in Ariel, Samaria,
Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
We work together, we haveno problem with the Jews
in any place in the country,
in Tel Aviv or in the territories.
- [Scott] U.S. Ambassadorto Israel, David Friedmen
recently visited the Judea,Samaria Chamber of Commerce
and Industry in the city of Ariel
that Ja'abri helped found.
It's intended to developgreater economic opportunities
and integrated business models.
- [Interpreter] I'lltell you something more,
if someone threatens the situation,
I'll stand up for Noam and protect him.
I'm against all the troublemakersand will protect our area.
- He would protect Jews.
- [Interpreter] It's our culture.
He's my friend, I won'tbetray his life ever.
This is how I understand peace.
- [Scott] PresidentTrump has yet to unveil
his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan
and it's unclear what it contains
but if it's up to Ja'abri and Arnon,
it will be a whole different ball game.
Scott Ross for CBN in Hebron.