America-Israel Council for Israeli- Palestinian Peace (AICIPP) (1982­­ — 2009)

AICIPP was founded in 1982 as the U.S. sister organization of the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace in an effort to call attention to Israelis and Palestinians who were speaking out for peace. The group was founded and chaired by Mary Appelman of Downers Grove, Illinois.

"The America-Israel Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace has been founded by Americans to support a vision of peace in the Middle East based on a mutually recognized right of Israelis and Palestinians to determine their own national destiny," the group said in a brochure distributed in early 1982.

"It is important for the American people to provide encouragement to those with the courage to speak out for peace in the Middle East."

At a time when U.S. policy barred recognition of or negotiation with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, AICIPP took the sometimes lonely position that Middle East peace "must involve simultaneous, mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO."

The Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, or ICIPP, was founded in 1975 by Uri Avnery, retired general Matti Peled and other prominent Israeli Zionists to promote Israel-PLO dialogue in response to indications by the PLO that it would consider a two-state solution. The Israeli group called for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on mutual recognition, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the territories occupied in 1967, and creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip alongside Israel.

As a tax-exempt, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, AICIPP provided a way for Americans to make tax-deductible donations to support the work of the Israeli group.

AICIPP organized trips to Washington to meet with members of Congress and urged the U.S. government to enter into direct talks with the PLO and involve the PLO in peace negotiations. The group also supported calls for the U.S. government to declare its support for Palestinian self-determination and for an international peace conference with no preconditions.

The group sponsored speaking tours by Avnery, Peled and others including Mohammed Miari, who was elected to the Knesset along with Peled in 1984 on the Progressive List for Peace ticket. AICIPP helped distribute The Other Israel, the newsletter of ICIPP, and published its own newsletter, Voices for Peace.

AICIPP condemned Israel's June 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Its primary focus in the early years, however, was "to focus American attention on the existence in Israel of a peace movement that advocates negotiations with the PLO and mutual recognition between Israel and a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza," Appelman told The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs in 1985.

"In our view, if the United States is serious about wanting peace in the Middle East, the U.S. … will start talking to P.L.O. officials immediately about the possibility of Israeli-Palestinian peace based on mutual recognition," Appelman wrote in a letter published in The New York Times in 1986.

In June of 1987, with legislation pending in the U.S. Congress to close the two PLO offices in the United States, Appelman organized a delegation of American Jews who traveled to Tunis to meet with Yasir Arafat and other top PLO leaders. The group, which included Jerome Segal of Washington Area Jews for an Israeli-Palestinian Peace and Hilda Silverman of New Jewish Agenda, reported on its return that the PLO had expressed clear and strong interest in achieving a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Based on our discussions, we believe that PLO leaders understand the importance of peaceful relations among all states in the region, including Israel and an independent Palestinian State," the delegation said in a statement released on June 12, 1987.

"We are pleased to observe the great importance placed on expanding dialogue with Israeli Jews, and the welcoming of dialogue with American Jews.

"We find it ironic and unsettling that in Israel members of delegations such as ours are faced with the threat of jail upon returning to their country, and that in the United States legislation has been introduced that would close PLO offices and otherwise restrict contacts between the PLO and the American public. The path to peace lies in the other direction."

In June of 1988, AICIPP sent a delegation to the United Nations NGO Symposium on the Question of Palestine, where a resolution was adopted urging "all people and organizations working toward an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to support, through an international peace conference, the Palestinian right of return, the right of self-determination, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel as a basis for a comprehensive and lasting peace."

A 1988 editorial in Voices for Peace said, "It seems certain and almost self-evident that there will be no peace until Israel and the United States recognize the Palestinian people and its representative, the PLO, as a full-fledged party to the conflict and hence to the negotiations.

"The US requirement that the PLO accept 242 divorced from all other UN resolutions, and thereby recognize Israel in advance of negotiations, seems about as realistic as it would have been to require General Washington to make peace with King George III before the latter had recognized American independence.

"Israel at Forty needs peace. To achieve peace, Israel needs friends, real friends. Friends with the courage and honesty to tell her that peace will require her to go back to the principle of partition which she accepted in 1947, and by which she granted to the Arabs of Palestine the same right of self-determination that she demanded for herself.

"AICIPP believes that peace for Israel and freedom for the Palestinians are indivisible."

In December 1988, President Reagan authorized the opening of a "substantive dialogue" with the PLO.

In later years, AICIPP called on Israel to freeze all settlement activities in the occupied territories and urged Congress to condition housing loan guarantees for Israel on a settlement freeze.

"If the Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are not halted now, the last opportunity for resolving the conflict on the basis of exchanging land for peace will have been lost forever," Appelman wrote in a 1992 letter to supporters.