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Combatants group awarded peace prize

Oct. 12, 2010 12:19 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 13, 2010 1:33 P.M.)
NEW YORK (Ma'an) -- Two founders of the Combatants for Peace group will be presented with the 2010 Victor J Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East on Wednesday at a ceremony in the Bethlehem town of Beit Jala, a statement read.

The Institute of International Education will present the award, which includes a $10,000 prize, to Bassam Aramin and Avner Wishnitzer for their role in establishing CFP in 2005. Both had played active roles as combatants in the region and then committed themselves to non-violent activism, the statement read.

Aramin, 42, spent 10 years in Israeli jails for his involvement in a group that staged an attack on an Israeli military patrol. Upon his release in 1994, he participated in many peace-building initiatives. In 2005, Aramin helped to establish CFP and has been a movement leader ever since. His ten-year-old daughter was killed by the gunfire of Israeli soldiers as she was leaving school in 2007.

Wishnitzer, now 33, served as a combatant in Sayeret Matkal, an elite special forces unit of the Israeli army. As a reserve soldier in that same unit, he refused to serve in the occupied Palestinian territories. In 2005, Wishnitzer, along with other Israelis, met with Aramin and other ex-combatants in Beit Jala, leading to the formation of CFP.

The objectives of CFP are to raise awareness and promote an understanding among Israelis and Palestinians "regarding the hopes and suffering of the other side; create partners for dialogue; educate both sides towards reconciliation and non-violent struggle; and impose political pressure on both governments to stop the cycle of violence, end the occupation and resume a constructive dialogue," the statement read.

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