Opinion

The Great Debate

Can Obama avert an Arab-Israeli disaster?

By Bernd Debusmann
December 11, 2008

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Time is running out for Israel and the Palestinians. Barack Obama is probably the last American president to have the option of pursuing an accord leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, the so-called two-state solution.

If that fails, another generation will be locked into bloodshed and strife. That is the bleak scenario painted by two senior American Middle East experts in a new book, Restoring the Balance: A Middle East Strategy for the Next President. It is the product of an 18-month joint study by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations, two pillars of the U.S. foreign policy establishment.

The authors of the chapter on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Steven A. Cook and Shibley Telhami, see American involvement in peace diplomacy as indispensable and say last month’s presidential elections opened new opportunities. But they note that after years of unsuccessful negotiations, there is a
growing sense of disbelief in the possibility of a peaceful agreement.

“More troubling, an increasing number of Palestinian and Arab intellectuals are abandoning the idea of a two-state solution and are now advocating a one-state solution in which Jews and Arabs coexist in a binational state. In Israel some mainstream voices are now arguing that the two-state solution is
unachievable…”

“Left on its current trajectory, the Arab-Israeli conflict is on the verge of moving into a potentially disastrous phase in which Israelis and Arabs broadly come to believe that the two-state solution is no longer viable,” the authors say.

Possible consequences of that belief include a third Palestinian intifada (uprising), a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence and the collapse of the Palestinian authority.

Hamas, the Islamist movement which controls Gaza and is growing in influence on the occupied West Bank, run by the rival Fatah, would be strengthened.

To prevent the dire consequences they foresee, the authors say the new U.S. administration must give high priority to peace diplomacy and change policies on key aspects. Pressing Israel to freeze building settlements in the West Bank is high on their list. So is getting Hamas into the negotiating fold as part of a unity government. (So far, the U.S. and the European Union brand Hamas a terrorist group that cannot be a negotiating partner).

So can Obama do what is necessary to end the impasse? Is the only alternative to a two-state solution renewed, large-scale bloodshed?

NO SIGNS OF FRESH THINKING FROM OBAMA

While Obama has been critical of the hands-off approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the first seven years of the Bush administration, dismissing its efforts as “trips consisting of little more than photo-ops”, the president-elect has shown no sign that he might be willing to break with the decades-old policies that have earned the U.S. a reputation in the Arab world of backing Israel no matter what.

Would Obama, for example, use the threat of withholding U.S. financial aid to get Israel to stop building new settlements in the West Bank – where there already are 240,000 Israeli settlers – or dismantle existing ones? Not likely. Would he throw his weight behind calls for an end to Israel’s economic blockade of Gaza?

Would he, as the Brookings/Council on Foreign Relations report suggests, “recognize that Hamas’s power stems from genuine support among a significant segment of the Palestinian public..?” There’s nothing in his public statements that indicates he would and there are no pointers that he intends to depart from long-standing U.S. policies on the conflict.

That includes the two-state idea. What’s remarkable in the Brookings/CFR analysis is the concern it expresses that in the absence of a peace settlement, secular elites will turn their back on the notion of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and instead opt for one country (Israel, the West Bank and Gaza) in which Arabs and Jews are equal. For decades, the one-state idea was the preserve of a handful of far-left Israelis and Palestinian activists. The fact that it is now bubbling up into the mainstream shows that is gaining currency.

One of the most vocal proponents of the idea is Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian-American activist and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. “All the talk of a two-state solution, all the diplomatic initiatives are divorced from the reality of what Israel is doing on the ground,” he says. “A Palestinian state requires the removal of settlements and that’s not likely to happen.”

Most Israelis reject the notion of one state for all, chiefly for reasons of demographics. Because of higher Palestinian birth rates, Israeli Jews will become a minority within the next two years if present trends continue. By December 2007, Israeli Jews made up just under 48% of the population in the area that would make up one state, Palestinians 46%.

Abunimah, a co-founder the The Electronic Intifada, a website critical of U.S. and Israeli policies, has something in common with the more moderate experts from Brookings and the Council on Foreign Relations. “Solving the Arab-Israeli conflict requires a sledgehammer,” he says, “Not a scalpel.”

Echoing that sense of urgency, the Brookings report says: “The time for incremental agreements has passed.”

You can contact the author at Debusmann@Reuters.com.

For previous columns by Bernd Debusmann, click here.

Comments
81 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

I think it’s time for the Israelis and Palestinians to settle their differences without 3rd party assistance. The fact is, peace can never be imposed on this region; the answers to middle east harmony lie within the determination of the Jews and Arabs to find a way for it to flourish . Western influence and interference will get them nowhere.

Posted by KRR | Report as abusive
 

This columnist is right in being pessimistic about Obama bringing new ideas to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both he and his nominee for Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, prostrated themselves to AIPAC at their Washington conventions, not only this year but also last year. It should be obvious to anyone following U.S. policy on Israel/Palestine that neither have the guts, nor the inclination to try something new despite the very obvious fact that the old approaches have failed. Nothing will happen in the so-called peace process UNLESS the U.S. brings real pressure on its favourite child, Israel.

So, listen to Hillary Clinton, who as a senator represented the most Jewish, most pro-Israel constituency in the United States: “Israel should know that the United States will NEVER (my capitals) pressure her to make unilateral concessions or to impose a made in America solution.” Translation: go right ahead, Israeli government, and continue building illegal settlements in the West Bank, or “thicken” the existing ones. We will never take you to task on that, UN resolutions be damned. You can be assured of a steady flow of military and financial aid.

As to president-elect Barack Obama, to the same AIPAC convention on June 4, 2008: “The bond…between the United States and Israel is unbreakable today, tomorrow, and forever.” And: “Any…agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognised an defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.”

Continue: “Today, I’ll be speaking from my heart, and as a true friend of Israel.”

Well, can anyone out there remember whether any sitting American politician EVER described himself as “a true friend of the Palestinians.”?

So, Ali Abunimah’s idea of a one-state solution (which echoes the recommendation by the 1933 Peel Commission) may be logical. It might make sense. It might show a way out of the dead end of the so-called Peace Process. But it won’t happen.

Let’s not forget that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is NOT a foreign policy matter for the United States. It is a domestic issue, linked to the power of AIPAC as a lobby for Israel-right-or-wrong, linked to the importance of Jewish voters in swing states like Florida, and linked to other pressure groups infinitely more efficient than the Palestinians. Who rarely fail to make moves that prove right the old saw, attributed to Abba Eban ( among others) , that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

So, Ali Abunimah: dream on. Maybe what you want to happen will happen. But not in your lifetime!

Posted by Samuel P. | Report as abusive
 

The USA is in a weak political situation due to the state of the economy with its massive deficits. After the wars in Lebanon, and the expenditures in Irak and the state of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iran is in a better position than before the Iraki war. A general bargain with Iran and Syria implies the solution of the Palestinian situation (settlementes, resources, water, refugees, etc.) USA has no money for another conflict which explains the rumors about an atomic “umbrella” for Israel possible in exchange for negotiations with Iran and Syria. A viable Palestinian state is the best outcome for Israel because the tide of demography and the decline of USA economic power will place the state in serious jeopardy. J. Cervela

Posted by javier cervela | Report as abusive
 

Jews are forgetting WWII. The atrocities on them was unimaginable. But sometimes its doing same with the Palestinians.

Putting Israel in so called promised land was BIG WRONG. What the world can do is to push Israel-Palestine be a one state. And this where non-violence and Mahatma Gandhi comes

Posted by From India | Report as abusive
 

Are you kidding? Without pressure, Israel would never let the palestinians have their own state. Without international pressure, there would be millions of jews living int he occupied territories by now.

ALso, I doubt HAMAS wants to see a one state solution, unless that state is filled and controlled by arabs.

The 2 state solution is the only viable option, but extremists on both sides are keeping this from happening!

 

The global economic crisis is fast becoming the new scapegoat for anything and everything the policies of our countries fail to combat. The US has has ages to rethink its policy in the Palestinian-Israeli region, yet it hasn’t.There’s no use in trying to reinterpret the goals of politicians!! There was no imminent need for (then) senators Obama and Clinton to be so prolific in their unwavering support of Israel, yet they were. American policy is obviously NOT going to change.

We also have to acknowledge that in the long term the only solution is to change the mindset of the populous in the region to stop them demonising each other. Without that there is no trust in the good faith that is the basis of any binding agreement for a solution, whatever that may be. If the USA can’t change it’s policy it would do well to at least change its rhetoric.

Posted by AEK | Report as abusive
 

There were words missing (“early opposition”) in the following paragraph:

So, Ali Abunimah’s idea of a one-state solution (which echoes early opposition to the recommendation by the 1933 Peel Commission) may be logical. It might make sense. It might show a way out of the dead end of the so-called Peace Process. But it won’t happen.

Posted by Samuel P | Report as abusive
 

There were words missing in the paragraph below. It should read:

So, Ali Abunimah’s idea of a one-state solution (which echoes early opposition to the recommendation by the 1933 Peel Commission) may be logical. It might make sense. It might show a way out of the dead end of the so-called Peace Process. But it won’t happen.

Posted by Samuel P | Report as abusive
 

in reply to KRR
what you need to understand is that peace is actually possible without 3rd party involvement. but, dont you think Obama’s offer to give israel, the only neuclear armed state in the middle east, a nuclear umbrella, is a 3rd part involvement.
the matter of the fact is that the AIPAC in the u.s is pushing extremism in israel and ois negatively contributing to any peace settlement in the region.

Posted by Omar | Report as abusive
 

With major financial problems at home in the US, I don’t believe we need to waste our time over this matter. The financial mess and rightfully so is what Obama needs to worry about, let the Israelis and Palestinians deal with their problems. The Jews where not the only group of people to suffer atrocites. Lets not forget all those enslaved under imperalism of the British, French and Dutch.

Posted by R Shah | Report as abusive
 

As an Indian, I am proud to say that the only place in the World where the Jews were welcomed is India treated with great respect.Maybe its time other countries learn tolerance of all faiths. If you can’t solve this problem shame on the Muslims and Jews!! After all they are cousins dating back years ago. In India, we also have the second largest Muslim population of over 300 million, despite occasional riots, we have learned to grow together to become a major player in the world economy.

Posted by mr shah | Report as abusive
 

More than a sledge hammer needed:

1) integration of educational infrastructure
2) integration of medical professionals
3) integration of security/police forces
4) expansion of existing municipalities to include Israelis and Palestinians
5) 5 census to establish proportional leadership to address religious/ethnic representation concerns

#5 isn’t a great solution (see Lebanon) but something’s going to give. There will be a Just and Genuine Peace. Not a matter of ‘if’. It’s a matter of ‘when’ and how many will have to suffer and die, everyday, till then.

Don’t need more Pakistan/India or N. Ireland divides.

Posted by Ahmed | Report as abusive
 

Remember Albert Einstein with numerals in Arabic as a nice combo for peace in the light vein.

 

The whole thing is ridiculous. Personally, I think we should do what any parent does when their children can’t stop fighting for possession of something. “If you can’t share, then nobody can have it!” Lets evacuate the people and obliterate the so-called “Holy Land”. That’ll end the conflict right quick.

Posted by Adam Long | Report as abusive
 

It is time, for the west to retire from the middle-east. One thought comes to mind, allow the europeans, to solve this on-going problem. Problem started because of Germany & the Brit. If the perp’s can’t figure it out, let the Israel solve the palistinian situation. Have the arabs ever grown oranges? Guess they get theirs from Florida..

Posted by Michael Malley | Report as abusive
 

One should read Osama Bin Laden’s confession… he mentions that the Bush administration never actually faced the real reason for what happened: Israel. So that means that more insurgent parties will be created so long as we prop Israel up on a pedestal. This is not to say I support the rebels, but it is to say that I believe we’ve done enough meddling already.

I’m afraid after hearing Obama’s declarations that the current Israel is the way to go, that there will be no change for Israel and the other affected parties. They will continue to overstep their boundaries.

Why did we ever assist Israel in becoming what it is today, anyway? Did we feel sorry for the Jews just because Hitler happened? We’re No one is responsible for Hitler than Hitler himself. The only thing a person can do in their life is hold themselves accountable for their own actions. The US did not immediately join the war, but neither was the information on the concentration camps immediately widely known.

Nothing ever gets better by pitying a wronged party. We can only fix issues by altering how people think. Once we ‘give’ a pitied/wronged party anything, they start to believe they deserve more. They will then step past their boundaries further and further, creating more demands from those that pity them, instead of creating a real equality or acceptance. And when I say boundaries, I mean the boundaries set forth for all people, not just the oppressed people.

Two immediate examples jump to mind: the former slaves of the US and the former genocide of Jews. Although I do agree that there should be no descrimination based on gender, race, creed, religion, etc. I believe that we have misstepped in our actions. We’ve been giving special treatment to people, which actually highlights any disparities, instead of enforcing equality on the psychological level. These highlighted disparities create a fissure, in the end. Fissures do not lead to peace.

Posted by CS | Report as abusive
 

In this conflict there is an aggressor and a victim. The peace plan on the table, the so-called road map, is trying to enforce peace at the expense of the victim, the Palestinians. This, of course, is expected of a peaceful mediation led by an indifferent party: the mediator helps the stronger side to achieve most of its gains by making the weaker side believe it is the best available solution. But, you see, these kinds of solutions are not just, and therefore not long-lasting. That is not to say that peace is not possible or the two-state solution is absurd. The Middle East peace and an independent Palestine can happen and should happen. But they must happen at the expense of the wrong side: Israel.
Israel must return to the pre-war borders and find the way to compensate refugees for the inflicted wrongs, just like Germany found the way to compensate Jews for the crimes against them in the WW-II. Whether Israel sympathizers like it or not, Israel is on the wrong side of history here. It has captured and held illegally other nation’s territory, forcefully deported hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes, indiscriminately killed thousands of civilians, including children, has violated scores of human rights principles and laws, used force illegally across international borders…. Under the normal circumstances, a country like this would be a pariah state. Under the normal circumstances, a country like this would be sanctioned. But, these are not normal circumstances. You see, Israel has convinced many in the US establishment that it is a staunch ally, an unsinkable aircraft carrier, an intelligence gatherer and generally a means of influence in the volatile and important region. American population has also become convinced that Israel is a tiny democracy surrounded by the ever hostile sea of enemies. Moreover, many even perceive some sort of religious duty in protecting Israel….
So what is to be done? Maybe, we, Americans, should remember that sometimes little but belligerent “eternal” friends can lead big countries to big disasters (the history is full of such examples), and having realized that, maybe we should start thinking about the US national interests first. Then, maybe we will come to a conclusion that, regardless of the fact that “the bond…between the United States and Israel is unbreakable today, tomorrow, and forever,” we should convince Israel to change its ways with the neighbors…before we become a target of somebody’s misguided vengeance again.

 

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I trust in the bible as my ultimate source of authority. In the bible we read that the Israelites were God’s chose people to be set apart from other nations of the world. God made a covenant with the Israelites that said that He would give them The Promised Land and allow them to live in peace if they obey and follow Him. Sadly, it was and still is often the case that the Israelites failed to be obedient to their God and followed the ways of other gods. However, the LORD said that He would hear the cries of His people whenever they repented of their sins and came back to Him. One thing needed in Israel today is for a spirit of repentance and for the eyes of Israel to be opened to see that Jesus Christ is indeed the Messiah that they have been waiting for.

Another thing to realize is that God does as He sees fit because He is the only one who is worthy of praise and worship. He is the only one who is not self-seeking. While we don’t understand His ways, He is sovereign and good and what the bible says about Him is true. He does what He does to purify His people because He loves us unconditionally.

This is why the United States continues and will continue to back Israel – because God has chosen Israel as His chosen people who He would use to bring other people to a knowledge of God. This is what God refers to as the “blessing” of Genesis 12:1-3.

This does not mean that Palestinians and Arabs and other non-Jews should be hung out to dry. Each and every one of them is created in the image of God and He dearly loves them.

We need to pray for peace and for a deep repentance in the hearts of all people in the world to realize that our ways are not God’s ways. Only by recognizing who we are in the light of who Jesus Christ is can we sincerely love our enemies and live in peace with them. Only then can Israelis and Palestinians live together as one people with the LORD Jesus Christ at the center.

Posted by ZS | Report as abusive
 

Bishop Desmond Tutu, the South African Nobel peace prize winner, said last week: “I think the West, quite rightly, is feeling contrite, penitent for its awful connivance with the Holocaust. Now when you are contrite, when you are penitent, you are then ready to make amends, and well that penance. The West is penitent, the penance is being paid by the Palestinians.”

Posted by Mahmoud L. | Report as abusive
 

Got Jewish friends? Watch this:
http://tinyurl.com/6376ne

Got Arab friends? Watch This:
http://tinyurl.com/6m222p

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive
 

To ZS: Your view is part of the reason that this conflict exists. You just said that Israelis are superior to Palestinians… Stop using an out of date relic as your ultimate authority on politics. You can keep praying while real people work on a real solution. Not everyone believes in Jesus Christ and they shouldn’t have to in order to have peace. Right Wing individuals like yourself are the reason why the U.S. has thrust itself too far into too many Middle East affairs it should have never touched. Do I believe in Jesus Christ and the overall message of the bible? Yes. Do I think it should be a guide to Middle East policy? Never.

Posted by SF | Report as abusive
 

In my humble opinion, certain preconditions, certain developments must take place prior to any negotiations for the implementation for a so called “Two state Solution”.
A). The Palestinians MUST IMMEDIATELY accept that in our age only solutions based on Democratic, Free principles are negotiable.
A1). The Palestinians MUST IMMEDIATELY proceed with the Democratisation of their two mail political factions. That can only be achieved when the two “groups” abandon their present names and rename them along the lines of a civilised, democratic multi-party political system, i.e, along democratic lines and principles, giving perhaps rise to the first true Islamic and Arabic Democratic political system. The Palestinians and the rest of the World, including the UN, cannot really expect Israel to accept another religious Islamic dictatorship, this time right next to their own State. When the Palestinian democratic Political multi-party (presently dominated by two factions, parties) then, pressure must be applied to Israel…..
B). Israel, only then can, and should, agree to some relinquishment of their settlements on the West Bank (excluding any discussions on the present status of Jerusalem), where upon, FREE Democratic Elections must take place amongst all Palestinians for the election of their Administration, their Government. The USA, Europe, Israel and the Arab countries MUST assist the fledgling Palestinian State with large capital for infrastructure and other social projects.

When the above can successfully implemented, the new Palestinian State can be the democratic shining light for all other Islamic and Arabic Nations. They can show, that even in Islamic countries, a multi-party, peaceful (democratic) political System is feasible and it can thrive socially and economically. For this to be achieved, all parties must show good will, rational and accept that a solution is only achievable if all concerned are prepared to negotiate, rationally, democratically and humanely.

Posted by Cassandros | Report as abusive
 

The Palestinians have one of the world’s highest birth rates. So perhaps one state is imminent biologically. Israel is a bully. Settlements continue in Hebron. It has enforced an economic blockade of Gaza. In defiance of the UN, it refuses to return Golan to Syria. If Netanyahou accedes to prime minister, he will use his 20 year old delay tactic “Iran will move in to occupy Golan when Israel leaves.” In short, there is no willingness to give and take. Israel has the power to keep on taking.

The paradox is that both Palestine and Israel are fighting for survival. Neither is instersted in “peace” but provocation. As such these are both their common bonds and fatal flaws. Intransigence has been Israel’s de facto modus operandi and mindset these past 60 years. A separate state will not not bring abaout the hoped-for ideal or enen idea of peace: animosities that have lingered more than 1000 years will not just disappear.

The US, for whatever its reasoning, fails to embrace the fact that freedom for all is inalienable. It is an universal right.

Posted by boredwell | Report as abusive
 

I don’t know who is giving the prize for the “Best comment” I would agree with the comment if the USA were not providing Israel every year with millions and millions of dollars. The largest recipient of foreign aid in the world. Unless Israel and the AIPAC see that the only solution is a just peace with the Palestinians (no settlements, jerusalen as capital of Palestine, and sharing water and other resources equitably) and massive economic aid to Palestine, the future of Israel looks dismal. The USA is declining economically & therefore Israel. Time is running out. J.Cervela

Posted by javier cervela | Report as abusive
 

How can peace be achievable when Israel occupies the West Bank and continues to build settlements on Palestinian land. It is racist that some in the world blame the Palestinians for being occupied. Somehow in this topsy world besides the United Nations, human right activists many in America and west believe Israel to be morally right in this occupation. I guess believe what you want but until Israel gives back the land, settlements and Palestinians the right to live how can there be peace. This is todays apartheid.

Posted by sunny | Report as abusive
 

If Israel goes to war, the world will soon follow.

Hope that the differences can be settled and the extremism is quelled.

Posted by turkish | Report as abusive
 

The REAL problem here is OVERPOPULATION.
As long as the poor continue to increase their numbers so fast, they will continue to live in squalour and be exploited, not just by greedy Israelites, but also by their own people.
Its is as reasonable to ask the Palestinians to give up violence as it is to ask the Israelies to give up stealing (building on the West Bank)
Perhaps the US should ask Israel to bail put their automakers!

Posted by gardiner | Report as abusive
 

I have always thought that Israel’s and Palestinians have more in common with each other than they do with their so called supporters.
The Palestinian cause has always been cynically used by Arabs nations, in the past Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq and today Syria, Iran and the Islamic extremists movements. They clearly have never cared about the Palestinians as Syria has always had its own nationalist goals which include Palestine/Israel (greater Syria) and Iran seems to be bent on its own Islamic and anti semitic goals.
As for Israel, its support from the west has always been conflicting with the wests desire for Arab oil (the war in Iraq) and the only times the peace process has clearly moved forward was when the Israel’s western allies, i.e.; America were not involved in the peace process, for example; the Oslo process.
The one state solution is an obvious solution but the extremists in Israel and amongst the Palestinians will have to be neutralized, which means Chamas, Hizballah, Iran on the Arab side and right wing extremists in Israel.

Posted by Barry Sheridan | Report as abusive
 

Mr. Debusmann,

Why would you say Obama has shown no fresh thinking about MidEast policy – how would you know? Did you have a discussion with him? Did you talk to his staff? Were you a part of meeting of some meeting with him? Or are you posturing and pontificating for your own self importance like most so-called columnist?

Your views are OBVIOUSLY pro-Israel whose arrogance throughout this situation is ridiculous. I am personally sick of our involvement with this ancient and tiresome squabble. I hope Obama focuses his attention in building relationships in the MidEast as a whole that don’t back us in diplomatic corner.

Posted by IndieFox | Report as abusive
 

To ZS: Wake up! If God wanted to say anything to us, he would choose a better means of communication instead of 3000 year old story book. Don’t you think if he wanted to say something to guide His/Her people/creatures he would just come out and say? Why would he use codes and abstraction in Bible & Quran if He/She is serious about getting His/Her message out? Those books have lost their usefulness if they indeed had any.

Posted by Al | Report as abusive
 

The U.S is the biggest problem in trying to settle this conflict one way or another. Their continued support for isreal by providing them with billions of dollars of economic aid,military weapons and information, and ignoring numerous U.N human rights accords is a clear sign that U.S is not capable of helping resolved the proble. we are the problem. Why does israel get more aid then any other country in the world, when we have the enitre continent of africa that needs help?? Obama has clearly stated that he supports israel no matter they do, when this president of “change” thinks the same way every other president has thought, what is he going to change??? israel prides itself on trying to be a peaceful nation yet, it cannot even solve the problem in its own back yard. the U.N, U.S, E.U all need to stay out of the israeli palesinian conflict. tell them they both need to come to the table one way or antoher and resolved this matter once and for all. its pathehtic that the world has to deal with their problem now for almost 4 decades. if they fail to do so, then both need to face economic sanctions and be shunned from the world. The U.S needs to stop meddling in everyone’s conflicts, because we just make it worse.

Posted by sidney | Report as abusive
 

60 yars have passed and still some yearn to have back the geography of 1947.Prior to the state of Israel the jews had been scattered around the world for two thousand years, not for a day letting go of their identy.The holy people? Collective madness?

Posted by kh | Report as abusive
 

Its already too late for 2 state. Israel won’t move back to 67 borders. The only decent solution is 1 state with equal rights for all and an immediate end to apartheid.

Support the boycott and divestment movement of Israeli products and contact your representative and let them know you are tired of your tax money going to military aid to subsidize Israel’s illegal and immoral occupation. It is not our interest to subsidize apartheid anywhere…..even in Israel and the territories it occupies. Last year, with much little publicity, our govt promised Israel 30 Billion dollars over the next 10 years for military aid. This was a 20 25% (can’t remember precisely) increase over our previous military aid to Israel.

Lets have a foreign policy that puts the US’ interests first. Peace and fairness are in our interest…not 60 year old occupations on our dime.

Posted by mickle | Report as abusive
 

The one-state solution, where you don’t have two ethnic states with a historical rivalry sitting side-by-side, each armed to the teeth and possessed of a shopping list of territorial disputes, is probably far more viable in the long run than the two-state solution. More importantly, it’s much more in line with the modern notion of pluralistic, multiethnic societies with equal citizenship and equal participation in things like the police, the military, and so on.

If mainstream Israelis and Palestinians now want to go in this direction, they should be supported, not criticized. The two-state solution has nothing but a long history of failure and its merit, even if realized, is dubious – at best it creates a new Balkans in the Levant.

Posted by DG | Report as abusive
 

“Possible consequences of that belief include … a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence and the collapse of the Palestinian authority.”

So what if they do declare and the PA collapses? All that would do is provide abundant opportunity for martyrdom of Palestinians at the hand of Israeli arms. The Israeli’s posses the land now. There is no recourse available to the Palestinians to return to pre-war domains. An arbitrary declaration of independence simply gives the Israeli’s an excuse to push the Palestinians into permanent Diaspora and thence extinction. They will be the gypsies of the Arab world. It is laughable to believe the Palestinian can achieve any satisfactory end-state by violent means. Only through deep Palestinian concessions can the Palestinians hope for any favorable resolution. Israel need surrender only token offerings in the process. And a favorable resolution at this point will be a shadow of anything they might have had from past near chances. As has been said though, the Palestinian never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. I am confident the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people will be ultimately successful. The west will be indifferent to their fate.

Posted by Imri | Report as abusive
 

I cannot understand why the demographic concerns are seen as legitimate concerns by anyone in this country. The USA. To maintain as a matter of government policy that a state must remain ethnically?, religiously?, culturally?, Pure?. One does not have to be a practicing believer to be considered Jewish – or so I have heard.

Haven’t we seen the same arguments being used in the former Yugoslavia, in parts of Africa and elsewhere and the US has not approved of them. Where is the logic behind the exception?

I’m not at all certain how one determines the quality of ones Jewishness? It seems less a problem with Palestinians – it’s language mostly and a religious tradition. Rather too much of one perhaps? Or too fierce? But ferocity seems common to both sides.

Keeping a demographic plurality is very little different than gerrymandering, redlining, and so like what the Nazi’s seemed to want as well. Why do we fall for it? It wouldn’t be legal in this country for any state to try to restrict itself to one ethnic, religious or cultural majority. What kind of principle is it that Israel has been trying to preserve to the point of long-term occupation of the demographically inconvenient?

Posted by paul rosa | Report as abusive
 

Two things have been crystal clear since 1948: Israel has always been in a territorial expansion mode, never in a peace mode. And the United States has never been an honest broker in the Middle East. With a more than 60-year record pursuing these policies, it is impossible to arrive at an equitable solution for the Palestinians with the assistance of the United States, nor should they expect such a solution. Israel, however, now realizes the inevitability of a state with a Jewish minority, based simply on the rate of reproduction of the arab population inside Israel, and the decline in the number of Jewish immigrants to Israel. They will try to arrive at a solution that is acceptable to the Palestinians before time runs out on them, and hope that the United States will assist them. But we have inherited the whirlwind, and the Palestinians are no fools. They will wait and let nature take its course. Israel has lost its chance for permanence.

Posted by Richard Bentley | Report as abusive
 

Response to Michael Malley post “Have the arabs ever grown oranges? Guess they get theirs from Florida.”

Yes! the Arabs grow oranges from Syria, Lebanon all the way to Morocco. As a matter of fact they introduced oranges to the west. Israel is the very last to join in. The only reason you actually know that is because they want you to believe they make the land bloom and that they deserve to keep the land they stole from the Palestinians. They need you to buy those oranges as well. You see it never fails to bet on the sheer ignorance and stupidity of those living in the west. This is an important part of why there is a lack of progress in the peace process and Israel knows it and uses it very well.

Posted by Alan Hansen | Report as abusive
 

ARAB LOBBY ON THE OFFENSIVE

The main Arab-American problem is Iraq.

It will be so for the foreseeable future. It is a result of the maniacal obsession with Saddam by President Bush.

To appease the Arabs, the Arab lobby suggests to sacrifice Israel.

Like all supporters of terrorists,from the Left to the anti-Semites and the Arabs,their main pawns Zbig and Jimmy threaten the West with more terrorism and hatred toward the US and Western nations.

Their two main bogus arguments are: one state for the Jews and Arabs and the \”demographic threat.\”

The biggest opponents of the one-state solution are the Palestinian Arabs with the exception of one or two persons on the Left.

The \”demographic threat\” was completely obliterated when one million Soviet Jews emigrated to Israel.

However, the Arab lobby is going full speed in its almost daily attacks on Israel. Their goal is to undermine the US-Israeli relationship to appease the Arabs.

Bethesda

Posted by Isaac | Report as abusive
 

They (Israel) will always be a thorn in their brothers side. No matter what we think is fair or not fair, GOD said that they (Israel)are HIS people and made a covenant with Abraham that the land belongs to Israel. Who can dispute that?? The land belongs to GOD’s chosen people… Period.

Posted by James Robert Boy | Report as abusive
 

Dear Bernd,

This problem has stumped everyone since 47, I don’t think we can be critical of Obama of not being original in his approach. It could be the one Great Thing he does and we should give him time to get into office, meet with those parties necessary to productive resolutions and spend some time amply considering this problem against the backdrop of waining enthusiasm for the US in the Middle East.

Personally, I think Domestic Issues are of premium importance and that any constructive action on the area of Palestine Israeli conflict would come far later in the Obama administration.

Hillary Clinton was calling for strikes on Iran…

So we should not be surprized by the S-O-S.

Thanks as always for room to express an opinion, I wish all parties a peaceful and constructive co-existance free from terror and counter strike no matter how long it takes. There has been enough innocent blood lost in the Middle East to saticefy any appetite, even Bin Laden’s. It is time to lay down arms and do the difficult work of peace.

 

I do feel that this “final solution” to this problem is the crux of the problem. The palestinians have had a country it is called Jordan. Jordan is ruled by the family from Saudi Arabia. The palestinians are not an indigenous people and should not be treated as such. They have had the opportunity to establish a state in the early seventies but lost the bid in Jordan. The rest of the arab world should just absorb them and call it a day. Israel has given and given changed and changed it is enough. If the so called palestinians want a country tell the false ruler of Jordan to leave and go there. You dont believe me about Jordan look for yourself Jordan is ruled by Saudis not Jordanians!

Posted by Bruce in Bakersfield | Report as abusive
 

Leaving Negotiations to Israelis and Palestinians is like pissing against the wind. All the Leverage is just one sided – Israel\’s. Israel is the occupying Force, Owners of the Settlers, of Arab East Jerusalem, Supported by Western Media, News Pundists, Lobbies and AIPAC. The Palestinians have their populations in exile, under occupation, under restriction, under siege or in Israeli Jails. How can a true and lasting peace be achieved?

A New UN Security Council Resolution should Expand and Affirm Resolutions 242, 338, and all these resolutions pertaining to Israel\’s illegal Actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and the presence of Settlers.

A Nato Force should move in immediately to replace Israeli troops in and around the major Palestinian Cities in the West Bank and move into Gaza in exchange of proclaiming Gaza the first liberated part of the New Palestinian State.

Israel, the Palestinians and Syria will be given 6 months to achieve Peace, before one is enforced.

Posted by Awill IsNeeded | Report as abusive
 

The one-state solution is the most impossible, unworkable solution to the conflict ever devised. It is not gaining any support whatsoever with the overwhelming majority of both Israelis and Palestinians.

There are virtually no cultural similarities that could be counted on to build a shared society. There is no common language, no common religion, no common history. The only thing these two societies do share is mistrust and animosity.

There are also no historical examples of a one-state style solution. In fact there are numerous examples of failed multi-ethnic states. Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Iraq, are examples of what would be in store for the region if a one-state solution was foisted on Israelis and Palestinians.

While the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis has been bitter, it has also been relatively non-violent when compared to other major conflicts involving ethnic strife such as Rwanda or Darfur. Imposing a one-state solution is the best way to maximize violence, hostility and death.

What these two societies need is a divorce, not a marriage. Making that happen requires ensuring that both sides receive what they want. For Israelis that means security and peace and for the Palestinians it means an independent state.

Posted by Jonah | Report as abusive
 

People that call that land their home should negotiate by themselves how they would like to live there, without interfering from friends and neighbors. To avoid any side to behave genocidal, or in any other way criminal, entire territory should be placed under jurisdiction of respectable entity (International Criminal Court perhaps). Forced by fact that all human have the same rights and that all human should be respected and treated the same, positive atmosphere would enable creation of lasting and peaceful solution. If America, EU, or Islamic countries would like to see this resolved, they should declare themselves the friends and brothers of the parties involved and therefore subjective to help out directly. To prove their friendship and brotherhood America, EU, or Islamic countries should give full support to respectable jurisdiction.

Posted by Muhamed | Report as abusive
 

Bernd,
The USA and EU, with assent by the PA and Israel, have invited Hamas to negotiate, in or out of a unity government, if and whenever it agrees to renounce attacks on Israeli civilians, recognize the right of a Israel to exist, and abide by prior PA agreements. They could then participate in negotiating new agreements and new borders. They candidly refuse all 3 terms. Who will be at their back with a sledgehammer?

What other ‘blockade’ ever allowed food, medicine, fuel, and electricity through to a sworn enemy? What other country would stop at what you refer to as a blockade of a state that was shelling them? In any case, Egypt twice brokered a lifting of the partial blockade of Gaza in exchange for a cessation of shelling of Israel from Gaza, no recognition required. Hamas has twice broken even this agreement.

A vast majority of Israelis would surrender the bulk of the settlements as part of a agreement that included a finality of claims. Ehud Barak made this offer in 2000, and the Labor and Kadima parties would do so now. Surveys of the Palestinians reveal that only 5% of Palestinians would accept a two state solution with finality of claims, although another 40% would accept it as a temporary solution. Who will coax the Palestinians towards compromise?

The answer is indeed a two state solution. Thereafter citizens of each state could apply for residency permits in the other state, but maintain voting and citizenship rights only in their own state. Ideally 1.3 million Israeli Arabs and 240,000 Jewish settlers could choose one citizenship or the other, have their residencies grandfathered in, and be required to follow the laws of their host state.

Posted by Dean Freedlander, MD | Report as abusive
 

Disappointing but true that not much can be expected from the soon-to be-in charge Obama administration about this issue. The signs are not encouraging.

It would be surprising if Hillary Clinton takes a radical approach to negotiate a peace treaty. She (and Obama) are certainly not free of the influence of Israeli lobbies.

The people in the center of the strife — the Palestinians and Israelis — ought forget about god, chosen people, etc., and think in terms of the human factor. Their future of their children and grand children should be the primary reason for reaching an
agreement….a just agreement. Both sides should be ready and willing to make compromises.

 

Dr. Freedlander

It is pathetic that you are equating lethal Jewish Settlers in Jerusalem and the West Bank with the natural rights of Palestinians who have always lived inside what is now Israel. Settlers in occupied lands have no rights whatsoever.

What you call “Ideally” is suitable to Israel only. Offering Palestinian Israelis a foreign citizenship (even if Palestinian) is aimed at refraining from renewing their residence permits in Israel at some point in time, thus subjecting them to mass deportation. Once again, Palestinians would be made to leave their homes, business, and assets behind. This “Ideally” idea is a non-starter.

If Israel truly wishes to significantly reduce the number of non-jewish citizens in its jewish midst, it should agree to withdraw to the original 1947 Palestine Partition borders, thus ridding itself of most of its Christians and Moslem population in a fair way.

Israel cannot continue to seek more land free of non-jews. If a true jewish ghetto is being sought, then Israel should rid itself of Palestinians along their lands.

Posted by Awill IsNeeded | Report as abusive
 

The Arab /Israeli disaster began in 1947. All in response to the Nazi pinnacle of anti-semitism. It should be noted that Jewish refugees from World War II were refused entrance into many countries subsequent to the War. Centuries of persecution and genocide lead many Jewish people to believe the establishment of a Jewish state necessary for their survival.
While it is evident that throughout history few nations have been sympathetic to the plight of Jewish people, it cannot be said that is a problem of the past. Just as racism towards people of color persists so does anti- semitism. My best guess is that such feelings of hate are inherent deep seated survival instincts the no longer serve us, and we should recognize this as such.
We live in a world of diminishing resources and a growing human population. The opportunity for conflict will only increase. We must temper our nature and reverse the trend of burning up the planet. We cannot fail to act regarding certain issues in favor of acting upon others. I believe the consequences of disinterest and apathy are far to costly.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive
 

It never ceases to amaze me how commentators such as Mr. Debusmann are always asking what the U.S. is willing to do to pressure Israel (e.g,. cutting off aid), but never ask what should be done to pressure the PA into making the most elemental concessions.

This would include, for starters, recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. This should be a precondition for any negotiations, and should be considered no more controversial than asking Russia to recognize the right fo Poland to exist as Polish state, or Germany to recognize the right of France to exist as a French state.

Yet, the “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah refuses to do even this, despite the fact that the PA receives hundreds of millions of dollars and euros every year, which they mostly use to line the pockets of their top officials and to promote anti-Jewish hate propaganda of the most loahtsome variety.

It is also curious that many commentators invoke the principle of “majority rule” in justifying a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but completely ignore this very same principle right next door in Jordan, which has always had a majority Palestinian population, but is ruled by the autocratic, minority sect Hashemite monarchy installed by the British in the 1920s.

So, here’s my solution:

-Democratic reforms in Jordan leave the monarchy in a ceremonial role, but real power is transferred to the Palestinian majority in that country. They already have a parliament. This could be billed as evolutionary change, and is no different than the current political situation in many European countries and Japan. This would mean the end of the PA as the sole representatives of Palestinian national aspirations, which would be all to the good, as everyone knows that the PA is not interested in a state of their own unless it can be built on the wreckage of an existing state: Israel.

Jordan IS Palestine! Just look at the maps from the immediate post-WW1 period: The British “Mandate of Palestine” included present-day Jordan! THAT is the proper “two state solution”. We don’t need a “three state solution” with a non-viable Palestinian micro state in the West Bank, that will only turn out like Gaza has, a base for more terrorism.

I realize some have suggested something like the “Jordanian option” before, and that the Jordanian leadership is not keen on this at present. But they receive a lot of aid from the West – chiefly the U.S – they have no oil, they are unpopular among their own people, and I submit that they can be convinced of the need for change. Also, unlike others who have suggested the “Jordanian option”, I don’t stop there. Read on.

-The West Bank becomes a demilitarized zone. Israel retains permanent national sovereignty over Jerusalem, Gush Etzion, Ariel, and Maale Edumim, the major areas of Jewish settlement. They have the right to this; no country in history that has acquired territory in the course of a defensive war, as Israel did in the case of the West Bank in 1967, has ever been compelled to relinquish all acquired territory.

The Palestinian Arabs, in turn, are awarded sovereignty over the rest of the West Bank, which in turn confederates with Palestinian Jordan. NO ONE is required to move; all Palestinians and Jews in the West Bank can remain in place, as long as they are willing to accept jurisdiction of Arabs/Jews respectively as the map is drawn, THEIR RIGHTS RESPECTED IN ALL CASES. During a cooling off period, joint Palestinian/Israeli patrols maintain calm.

-Gaza reverts to Egyptian control, per pre-1967 arrangements, and remains demilitarized along with Sinai. Palestinians residing in Gaza would have the option of becoming Egyptian nationals, or relocating to Palestinian Jordan, perhaps with some financial incentives provided by the Arab community. It should be noted that such a relocation, in geographic terms, woudl really be no more onerous than my having relocated from Chicago, Illinois, to Monroe, Michigan, for a job opportunity some time back. Egypt would be responsible for cleaning up the mess they helped create in Gaza in the first place (Hamas, Al-Queda, etc.). Any more rockets into southern Israel from that quarter, and Israel holds Egypt directly responsible.

Everthing I suggest above is consistent with UNSCR 242. The Palestinians may not get the whole of the West Bank, but they still get about 60/70% of it (I’ve never made a precise calculation), AND THEY GET ALL OF JORDAN.

If Obama is REALLY about change, he might consider ideas of the type I suggest above. Otherwise, with respect to his approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict, he really represents nothing more than four more years of the same ‘ol same ‘ol.

Posted by Robert Vincent | Report as abusive
 

Time has been “running out” since my childhood about 40 years ago. The problem with our young and rather naive politicians (read Obama), and journalists is that they do not understand that. Tell them to relax and focus on realistic problems, like getting back to the roots of our ideals.

Posted by david pyne | Report as abusive
 

“…A Nato Force should move in immediately… Israel, the Palestinians and Syria will be given 6 months to achieve Peace, before one is enforced”
Awill IsNeeded
________________________________________ ______

Ever thought about imposing outside will on a modern nuclear power? Israel is no Somalia, Haiti, or even Yugoslavia. There are few armies even within NATO that can stand up to IDF. USA, GB, France – and that’s it, even Germany or Italy have lesser military forces, not even counting the nukes in. Besides, NATO is very much loss-averse and will not “move in” without Israel explicitly agreeing to that first – which will never happen. And even that only when there’s a political will within NATO, and there is none of it, nor is expected to be any. It all boils down to the fact that Israel is recognized by all of the civilized world as a legitimate democratic state (which it is, sometimes seems to be even too much of it for its own good), whereas HAMAS, Hizbullah, and like are recognized as terrorist entities (which they are without a shred of a doubt).
And if we raised the issue about imposition of a will, how about imposing on the Arabs recognition of Israel and its legitimate security concerns? How about making the Arab states accommodate Palestinian refugees within themselves, thus removing the biggest stumbling block of so-called “right of return”? To pay for the settlement with the funds they sucked from all of us when the oil prices ballooned beyond anything justifiable? This will prove much more doable than attempting to “impose” anything on Israel. After all, we saw what the Arab armies are worth. The mightiest of them all – Iraqi – crumbled within mere days both in 1991 and 2003.
Or maybe there should be no imposition at all. Imposed solutions and borders in Europe exploded 2 times into world wars. Only agreed upon solution resulted in EU. Maybe we should wait until all sides involved are ready to make peace, and for now just do what we can to keep the status quo from exploding.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive
 

“…Israel must return to the pre-war borders and find the way to compensate refugees…Maybe, we, Americans, should remember…” – and so on, and so forth…
Oleg
________________________________________ _________

Oleg,

Please don’t speak for us Americans. Maybe your point of view was legitimate (and, indeed, official) in USSR. Maybe it’s still prevalent in Russia/CIS with its ages-old traditions of Anti-Semitism. But there was no need for you to bring it in your baggage to America. Even when you write in English you can’t hide your Russian accent. Even though you are in America (as you claim), your view of the world has not changed from that fed on “Pravda” newspaper and “Vremya” TV news. Please look around and think – if regular Communist brainwashing in the past has not deprived you from that ability.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive
 

Dear Anonymous

Are you saying that Israel would even contemplate using its Nukes against Nato, against anybody else? I don’t think so.

The IDF is Mighty, The Mightiest in the Region, No Question about it, but it is Still Over Rated by both Israel and the World Press. The modest capabilities of Hizbullah, an irregular army, attest to that.

If Israel truly wants Peace then Nato is more than capable to provide it. Palestinians will welcome a Nato force, without hesitation. Nato is capable of providing security to Israel by policing its borders with Palestine.

Enforcing a Peace does not have to militarily. Binding Resolutions and economical sanctions can make the Israelis rethink. The European Community is Israel’s No. 1 trading partner. Israeli exports to the USA are all tax free.

If Israel truly wants peace, I do not understand why it would not cede the occupied lands to the Nato. The only reasons I can think of is Israel’s wish to retain occupied lands and/or the unwillingness of the Settler Movements and their backers to allow a withdrawal to take place without a fight. This is capable of igniting a civil war and the split up of the Israeli Army alongside extremists and rightists vs. Moderates and leftists. God knows who would be in charge of the Nukes then.

One thing for sure, in these days when fighting al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism is the head of the agenda, the free world will not be in a position to tolerate Jewish Terrorism.

After giving up 78% of Historical Palestine, the Palestinians have no other inch to give up for free. The larger the Settler Population becomes, the higher the cost of Peace is gonna be for Israel.

Israel will eventually comply with all UN resolutions. It can be easy way or the hard way.

Posted by Awill IsNeeded | Report as abusive
 

You all talk rubbish and so does everyone else. Nobody can end this problem without a long reaching, and I mean 30 year effort to teach the real history, i.e. we’ve been screwing each other over since time begat time begat time, and it will not end until the world realises. We are beyond borders, we are beyond land and sea. We have but one world to live in, right or wrong we have to share. Grow up, grow a pair, and stop killing everyone..

Posted by Al Paul | Report as abusive
 

Al Paul…My thoughts exactly! Well said!

Posted by Rick UK | Report as abusive
 

Unfortunately most Arabs seem to have the mentality of civilization 500 years ago with modern day technology.( Not saying there are many many civilized eduacated Arabs). I don’t see any hope of fixing this problem in much less that 500 more years. They have been fighting among themselves for 100′s of years. Look at Iraq, Hussain controled them with an iron fist. Democracy seems to be too progressive for most Arabs. They need a strong man (tribal leader) to govern them. Western civialization gave that up at least a few hundred years ago.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive
 

With all due respect to President-Elect Obama, asking if Obama can solve the Arab-Israeli problem is like asking if you think a 4-year old can fly a 747 from LAX to Dubai

 

Hatred exists because of fear and a lack of understanding between people. Israeli and Palestinian people themselves must understand the basis for their own hatred and fear and resolve it through improved communication. Fear is not a political problem, it is a HUMAN PROBLEM. It has existed for millennium. It continues to thrive because people fail to recognize its origins and think treaties or borders will somehow fix the underlying problem. They won’t. Did Bush respect treaties or international borders the moment he was gripped by fear of the potential for a terrorist attack?

Fear poisons understanding in the world. It makes miscommunication and human mistakes appear more threatening and ominous than they are meant to be. It breeds distrust and hate. People who encourage fear are either ignorant of its power or embrace it for the power it provides them over others. Fear is the enemy in the Middle East and it is one thing no one is making an effort to control through improved communication. Fear is the default emotion that prevents people from understanding or embracing the truth and recognizing what is real and has value.

Posted by PJW5552 | Report as abusive
 

Please get some reading done and try to figure out if the muslims killed any jews between 1260-1917. You might come out with a logic answer after learning about world’s history as a whole instead of believing occidental, jewish, muslim, russian or whatever form of propaganda…

Posted by Algeria | Report as abusive
 

I thought Carter was the last president to have any hope to resolve the Israeli/Arab conflict. I get so confused.

Posted by MadMat | Report as abusive
 

What’s a Palestinian?

Posted by Narvik40 | Report as abusive
 

I learned early on in my life that when I stop banging my head against the wall my head stops hurting. After five presidents over the last 40 years have tried the two state solution perhaps we should stop hitting our heads against the wall and look at the FACTS. Jordan is run by a Saudi Arabian! Over 80% of “Jordanians” are so called Palestinians. These so called Palestinians have a country it is called the “Heshemite Kingdom of Jordan” Just get rid of the Hesemite (Saudi Arabian) turn it over to the rightful owners and voila Palestinian Homeland call it whatever they want to call it and let Jordan live and let live and let Israel live and let live. In other words STOP HITTING YOUR HEAD AGAINST THE WALL, look at history and do the right thing!

Posted by Bruce | Report as abusive
 

I am a Palestinian and My grandparents home is occupied by Jews who came from the former USSR. If this unjust is not resolved, there will never be peace in the Middle East. Moreover, the USA should look at the Arab-Israeli conflict from a moral stand not form biblical or ideological stand.

Posted by Mahmoud | Report as abusive
 

Let’s face reality: there is no hope of peace between Israel and the the Arab world, including the stateless Palestinians, until until Israel’s right to exist is once and for all accepted and affirmed. But there is no hope of such affirmation until, at a minimum, Israel is willing to cede the territories required for the creation of a Palestinian state, including (probably) all of the occupied West Bank.

Simply put, an Israeli-Palestinian accord is possible, but both sides will have to make major concessions. And if one or both of them is unwilling? One option is for the territory to be carved up by U.N. mandate into two independent states in a manner not perhaps to the liking of either party, with an occupying NATO army to guarantee the security of the borders, at least until things cool down. Another possibility would be for the U.S., on its own — ever the friend of Israel, of course — to withdraw U.S. financial and military aid from the Jewish state unless the latter immediately agrees to strict terms including (1) reversal of the policy of building new settlements on the West Bank and (2) ending the oppression of the Palestinian people — possibly to include total abandonment by Israel of existing settlements on the West Bank and withdrawal of all Israeli troops from what are effectively Palestinian territories. For a vivid description of Israel’s dehumanizing oppression of the Palestinians, see the article by Chris Hedges, “Israel’s ‘Crime Against Humanity,’ ” at http://www.alternet.org/audits/113143/ , according to which “Israel’s siege of Gaza rivals the worst crimes carried out at the height of South African apartheid.” Israel, it seems, is becoming its own worst enemy. This puts newly-elected President Barack Obama in an excellent position, at this crucial time, to be Israel’s greatest friend, as the U.S. has a long tradition of being, but without in this case necessarily appearing to be. For Israel’s current policies clearly run counter to its own long-term interests, and the interests of regional peace and stability as well.

Posted by David Ferrell | Report as abusive
 

Israel has no ethical right to exist. This is the problem. Recognize that, and there will be peace.

Posted by Omar | Report as abusive
 

Regarding two comments below by “Algeria” and “Awill Isneeded”:

First, with respect to “Algeria”, to say that there was little violence propagated by Moslems against Jews between 1260 and 1917 is not accurate; there were Arab pogroms against Jews during the late 19th and early 20th century that coincided with the early period of the modern Zionist movement. Stil, to say that “Jews and Arabs got along just fine before Zionism” is rather like saying that “whites and blacks got along just fine” in the Jim Crow southern U.S. before those civil rights “troublemakers” showed up. Jews were treated as third-class citizens in the Moslem world; we don’t even know how many Jews existed in the Ottoman-controlled areas of what is now modern Israel because they refused to even count Jews in their census. Yes, the Jews had the temerity to demand self-determination as a people, to be treated like equal human beings among the world’s peoples, and then there was violence. All because of those “uppity Jews”, I suppose.

As for “Awill Isneeded”, a will for what? To legitimize medieval persecution of the Jews yet again? To rationlize denying the Jewish state the most basic considerations that would be, that have been given to, practically any other state that has found itself in Israel’s circumstances?

No country in history has been compelled to relinquish all territories acquired in the course of a defensive war. By any reasonable standared, the 1967 war was a defensive war for Israel. Egypt initiated hostilities by blockading the Strait of Tiran an act of war, and also by re-militarizing the Sinai, in direct violation of the 1956 cease-fire agreement. In the West Bank, Jordan shelled Tel Aviv from that territory without any provocation whatsoever. In any case, even UNSCR 242 does NOT require Israel to give up the whole of the West Bank, but only “territories” – not ALL the territories, but an undertermned portion subject to negotiation – acquired during that war.

We see what a great job NATO has done in south Lebanon since 2006; Hezbollah is armed as never before, openly supplied by Syria and Iran.

AI refers to “Jewish terrorism”; what a perverse comment! The only difference between Israel and the U.S. is that for Israel, Afghanistan is right next door. What would any responsible government do if faced with what Israel is faced with on her frontiers? Israel defends herself, and that is “terrorism”?! Right….

Finally, if the Palestinians were “forced” to give up “78% of historic Palestine”, then isn’t the more obvious solution to give them BACK that 78%, where they are presently the majority in any case, namely JORDAN? Now, talk about where “a will is needed…” See my original post.

And by the way, AI, “historic Palestine” only existed as such from the time of the British Mandate from 1922 onwards. Before that, there never was a concrete, delineated piece of real estate called “Palestine”. Most of the area of the British Mandate, under the Ottomans, was called “Southern Syria”.

Posted by Robert Vincent | Report as abusive
 

what ever will happen the israli will always win as said in the true words of the bible.

 

Regarding comments by “Omar” and “Mahmoud”

Omar, Israel has a greater right to exist than many of the world’s nations. Countless countries that exist in the world today were founded by colonial powers, and are led and populated by the descendants of those powers, at the great expense of the original inhabitants.

The Zionist founders of modern Israel did not come there to plant the flag of any other country. They were rejoining the original native inhabitants of that land. Though sometimes few in number, the Jews are the only people that have an unbroken, continuous link to that real estate. There was a Jewish country on that land before there ever was an Arab nation anywhere. Jews have lived there continually ever since. That is a fact. I don’t need the Bible or any ideology to support that.

Maybe if the Jews weren’t persecuted everywhere else, like most other perpetual minorities (e.g., Gypsies, Kurds), Israel wouldn’t be so vitally necessary to them. But it is, that isn’t going to change, and they aren’t going to give it up. And no human being worthy of the title should blame them for that.

But I’m sure it doesn’t matter what facts, logic, or documentation I present. People like you will never be convinced, any more than a committed Nazi could ever be convinced that Jews are human beings.

Still, I’m glad you posted what you did, Omar, because you illustrate to the gullible, such as Mr. Debusmann, or “Awhill Isneeded”, etc., what is really going on here. Such latter types cling to the illusion that if only Israel makes enough concessions, at some point, the Arabs will be satisfied, and there will be peace. No, as Omar illustrates – because he is at least being honest – most of Arab/Moslsm SW Asia/NE Africa, in their present political/cultural state, will not be satisfied until Israel is destroyed. Except that if it comes to that, with perhaps 200 nuclear warheads at her disposal, Israel will take the rest of the region with them. Is that what you want, Omar?

As to Mahmoud, I’m sorry for the personal losses your family suffered. However, if the Arab world had accepted the UN partition plan of 1947, instead of attacking the newly-born Israeli state outright, no Arab would have been forced from their home. If Jordan hadn’t shelled Tel Aviv from the West Bank in 1967, no Arab would have lost their home in that land, either. Yes, you have been victimized, but chiefly, this has been by your own leaders.

During WW2, millions of innocent Japanese and German civilians lost their homes, even their lives. By the end of the war, in practically every major German city, there was barely one brick on top of another. A quarter of more of Japan’s 65 largest cities were burned to the ground. Many Germans and Japanese can tell far worse horror stories than you can, about the terrible cost of war. But no matter how much these people suffered, it did not add one iota of legitimacy to the German or Japanese causes of that time. So, with all due respect, I might ask you to re-think what is “just” or “unjust” in this case, and who is really to blame for your family’s predicament.

There will be peace when the West, applying the lessons learned at horrific cost over the course of their own history, recognize and treat Israel for the worthy ally she is, rather than making excuses for her adversaries and attempting to sell her out to the same, in what amounts to another short-sighted and ultimately doomed exercise in misguided appeasement.

Posted by Robert Vincent | Report as abusive
 

Both parts are wrong in so many ways, for example, the violence and fanatism that palestinian are teachig their children is absolutely not right under any circumstance,
jews are people too.
But jews need to understand that palestinians had been living there for many centuries and they too have the right to be living there, i would say palestinians have more right to be there.

Why?

Because they were not responsible for the jewish diaspora, wich was forced by the romans because the jews rebelled so much.
But jews coming back to reclaim it from palestinians by force is nonsense, is like my family forcing at gun point other family out of their home because our great grandparents lived there hundred years ago but emigrated because of some disaster.

why is that disaster the fault of that other family???

Posted by Lalo | Report as abusive
 

“Lalo”,

You make it sound as though it was the “fault” of the Jews that they were expelled by the Romans, because they “rebelled so much”…in other words, THEY WANTED SELF-DETERMINATION. Confound those ‘uppity Jews’…Good thing the British weren’t able to carry out a ‘diaspora’ against us ‘rebellious’ Americans!

At any rate, the rest of your assumptions betray your own prejudices against the Jews as well. If you read my post carefully – and if you studied the history just as careully – you’d see that the Palestinians WERE NOT forced off of their land to make way for Israel.

The original modern Israeli state, per the UN partition plan of 1947, was about half the size of pre-1967 Israel. The formation of this state did not involve displacing anyone. Between what they already owned, plus what the British handed over to them when they left, the Jews owned 80% of that land, and had the majority of the population.

It was only as a result of two wars that the Arabs started – the original Israeli war of independence in 1948, and the 1967 war – that Israel seized land that resulted in the dislocation of Arabs. So, your basic point, though it is consistent with what the Palestinians would have you believe, is false. The Jews are not there – in the sense of being on land formerly owned by Arabs – because of some “distant disaster”. The Jews are in formerly Arab homes because of much more recent disasters – i.e., wars – caused by the Arab leadership.

The real objection the Arabs have to Israel is that the land was once under Moslem control. The way many Moslems of the region interpret their faith, they believe Islam is “superior” to all other religions, they don’t really separate church and state, and they believe that once a particular land falls under Moslem control, it cannot “go back” to the control of an “inferior” religion, such as Judaism. This is similar to the belief system of the Soviet empire in their day, that once a country became joined the “socialist camp”, it could not revert to an inferior “bourgeois” state. Except that in the Moslem case, this is supposedly by dint of ultimate authority.

So, the Palestinian Arabs are simply cannon fodder for an agenda propagated by clerics from Cairo to Riyadh and beyond. Because of historical Arab “pride”, in order to reclaim their “honor”, the Palestinians have been forced by their Arab and Moslem brethren into a position whereby in order to regain their place as “equals” among the rest of the Arabs, they must destroy Israel. This is not an agenda based on a quest for “justice”. This is no more enlightened than racist white southerners who, after having lost the Civil War, were determined to maintain their sense of “manhood” by persecuting blacks all the same, keeping them “in their place”.

That is what this war is about. It is not about “Zionist aggression”. It is about backward, medieval anti-Jewish bigotry masquerading as “victimhood”, and you, “Lalo”, apparently buy this nonsense hook, line, and sinker.

Posted by Robert Vincent | Report as abusive
 

Here is a IDEA>>>>… Can we all just get along?

Posted by j | Report as abusive
 

There is no right or wrong in Israel’s response. They have cut off supplies from Gaza and that failing bombed them to stop mortar and rocket attacks. An eye for an eye is not the proper analogy as it is more like a finger for an arm. Only the creation of Palestine with The Dome Of The Rock under their control will ever bring peace. A connecting tunnel from the Dome grounds to a New Jerusalem with connecting highway to the West Bank and Gaza would make Palestine somewhat contiguous. More land as peace continues can be ceded by Israel. Any other solution will be unacceptable to the Arab league and Palestineans.

Posted by Jimbo | Report as abusive
 

The US provides funding for Israel. From exclusive Jewish Settlement building,R&R for arms projects, to aviation fuel for US built F-16′s. All this with no strings. American auto companies might want to ask why a foreign country(Israel) is not held accountable for US tax payer aid,while the American companies are made to grovel

Posted by bruce | Report as abusive
 

israelians ‘ll be punished some day by the one.the strongest god.

ahmadinejad we trust u to beat all jews in israel

in sénegal we belive in palestinian people.we’re against violences and we condamne this genocide.

Posted by SANEEX | Report as abusive
 

This has to be the mother of them all. If after this the U.N and EU do not completely saction israel, then we know that they truely are the fraud that we all knew all along. We already know where the U.S stands on this, so no surprises there.Is this israel’s way of showing its “might” to take on a bunch of already poor and helpless civilians. is this supposed to scare iran or hezbullah? the fact that they are using their F-16s and helicopters on a bunch of rock throwing kids and teenagers?? this is the best israel can do, they know better then to fight hezbullah like this or even Iran because they know that it would be 225 dead israeli soldiers. this validates every thing about israel. they are an American backed puppy who has to take on a bunch of helpless civilians to show their “might”. for a nation who pretends to consider itself relevant in the world’s affairs, this just shows that they are a weak and pathetic government. I feel bad for the good jewish people who are approaching the end of Hannukah. a holiday which observes the persecution and oppression of jews. Is this how the zionists government observes hanukkah?? after this, I hope iran does get a nuclear weapon, it looks like its gonna take something of that nature to keep israel from wodering too far from its pig pen.

Posted by sidney | Report as abusive
 

Iran and Sirira (U.A.R.) doesn’t go stop for throw nuclear bombs against Israel. And the entire world know the stupid actions in the United Nations Organizations

Posted by the war is beginning | Report as abusive
 

This is one of the most trenchant pieces I’ve seen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict yet. One state now, one state forever.

Being a pragmatist, I wouldn’t argue that Israeli Jews of European or Ethiopian descent should be forced to return to Europe or Ethiopia, but I would certainly argue that the settlements in the West Bank should be dismantled (hey, aren’t they suburban sub-divisions that are not sustainable energy-wise anyway?) — and that Palestinians within living memory of their homelands should be granted the right-of-return.

For the rest of humanity? Forty acres and mule should do. I await my own.

Posted by Adam S. | Report as abusive
 

It is amazing to me the blatant anti-Semitism displayed by the recent preceding comments.

I would ask any reasonable person: What would any responsible government do if their neighbor harbored a terrorist organization that was bent on that former state’s destruction, would not even recognize their very right to exist, and continually carried out terrorist attacks from the host state’s territory?

Even at the height of the Cold War, with thousands of nuclear weapons pointing at each other, with the two superpowers perhaps one lunatic in a submarine or a faulty circuit away from nuclear annihliation, the Soviet Union and the U.S. recognized each other’s right to exist, had diplomatic relations, even engaged in a small amount of trade.

By contrast, even the PA’s so-called ‘moderate’ Fatah faction under Abbas won’t formally recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state; this would be like Russia refusing to recognize Poland’s right to exist as a Polish state, or Germany refusing to recognize France’s right to exist as a French state.

As I point out in my December 19th post in this forum, the original modern Israeli state, per the 1947 U.N. partition plan, did not result in the displacement of ANY Palestinian Arabs. The Palestinian Arabs only became refugees as a result of two wars started by their leaders, and/or by the leaders of neighboring Arab states, these being the 1948 and 1967 wars. No country in history has ever been required to cede all territory acquired in a defensive war, and there is no reason that Israel should be forced into being an exception to this established precedent.

Thus, the Palestinian Arabs have no legal basis for “right of return”. At any rate, the majority of ethnic Palestiinian Arabs live in Jordan, which is the real Palestinian state. As I point out in my December 15th post, I find it most curious that the principle of “majority rule” is invoked by the Palestinians and their supporters in the case of the West Bank, but this same principle is completely forgotten in the case of Jordan, right next door, which was part of the original Mandate of Palestine, and which today consists of a majority Palestinian population ruled over by an autocratic, minority sect royal family installed by the British. Where is the moral indignation over this state of affairs on the part of people like “Sidney”?

“Sidney” complains about modern military might being used against a bunch of “poor and hapless” civilians..isn’t this rather like the ‘pool and hapless’ Taliban, who, little better armed or funded than the Palestinians, flew planes into our buildings in 2001? Who nearly carried out a plot in 2006 to blow up multiple airliners over the Atlantic ocean?

For Israel, “Afghanistan” is right next door. By the standards Israel is held to by many, given that Al Queda has not attacked U.S. territory since 2001 (at least not successfully), this means that THEY (Al Queda) have been observing a “cease fire” for seven years! So what is NATO doing in Afghanistan??

For Israel to lose the same proportion of their population that we lost on 9-11, they only have to lose about 60 civilians. The PA – whether controlled by Hamas or Fatah – is responsible for direct, deliberate attacks on unarmed Israeli noncombatants far beyond that number. Yes, the Palestinians are poor and miserable…in no small part because every penny they get – hundreds of millions of dollars and euros every year, not counting the “under the table” monies from places like Iran – goes not to improve the lot of the Palestinians, but to promote hate and violence against Israel, or to simply line the pockets of Palestinian leaders and their cronies.

And if Palestinians enjoyed the freedom of expression indulged in by the likes of “Sidney”, if they actually had the kind of rights he takes for granted, rights that are denied them by their own governments, I’m sure many would protest this state of affairs. One gutsy son of a top Hamas leader did in fact defect and convert to Chisrianity, as are many Palestinians today, so sick are they of the “cult of death” that pervades Islam as they experience it in their world. But, they cannot protest, for if they did, they and their families would surely be killed. With Israel’s F-16s this is a random thing; but speak out against the corrupt thugs of Hamas or Fatah, and death is a certainty.

In any other conflict, all other things being equal, I’m sure everything I say above would be obvious to all. But in this case, we are dealing with one side comprised of Jews. The ugliness, the outrageous double standards displayed below, these are reminiscent of the kind of anti-Semitism driven, cowardly rationalizations we saw in the 1930s for appeasing the likes of Hitler.

Yes, “Sidney”, I suppose if we serve up the Jews of Israel as a sacrificial offering to those “poor, hapless, civilians” of Israel’s surrounding enemies, who make no secret of wanting to kill each and every Jewish man, woman, and child in the Levant, you expect that once this blood lust had been satisfied and those “uppity Jews” had been “put in their place”, there might be peace. And you would be dead wrong. Osama Bin Laden didn’t care a whit about Israel or the Palestinians, he never talked about them until after 9-11. His beef against the “infidels” is much broader and deeper than that, and Israel’s defeat would only serve to embolden the likes of him.

“Jimbo”, however well-intentioned your post, ceding land will not bring peace. This will only serve to validate historically and morally unjustifiable claims of the Arabs, and thus will promote further war. What has happend in Gaza since Israel left in 2005 has more than proved this. It is amazing that further proof was needed, after Israel left south Lebanon in 2000…and for their trouble, got Hezbollah firing rockets at Israeli civilians, and kidnapping Israeli soldiers, leading to war there.

Peace will come when the civilized world can free itself from the fetters of the Arab/Moslem propaganda machine, can truly rise above the anti-Jewish bigotry that so pervades debate concerning Israel, and recognize that Israel is to the war on Islamist-based terror what West Berlin was to the Cold War in their day.

From there, uncompromising support of Israel will ultimately lead to peace, once Israel’s foes – who are also the foes of the liberal democracy we enjoy here – see that they can no longer leverage ignorance and anti-Jewish bigotry in pursuit of their bloody-minded, genocidal aims.

Posted by Robert Vincent | Report as abusive
 

I am told in Scripture to Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ”May those who love you be secure
May there be peace within your walls 
and security within your citadels.”
Psalms 122:6-7
The peace sought in these verses is much more than the mere absence of conflict. It suggests completeness, health, justice, prosperity, and protection. The world cannot provide this peace. Real peace comes from faith in God, because he alone embodies all the characteristics of peace. To find peace of mind and peace with others, you must find peace with God. Muslims – Jews – Christians
I suggest that the Muslims, Jews and Christians of the Holy Land Lock Arms – Face the East
Humble themselves and seek God. Pray together and ask Forgiveness together. Love one another. God will hear from heaven and heal thier land…. and heart.
God tells us that love does not insist on its own way. There has to be compromise. Seek God, then listen for his voice. Or the people of the Holy land will never, ever find peace. The muslim will always ne a thorn in Israels side. God said it, I belive it.

 

@Robert Vincent: Mr. Vincent, I mostly share your opinion. Nevertheless I hope you answer two questions I have, referring to your following statement:

“the original modern Israeli state, per the 1947 U.N. partition plan, did not result in the displacement of ANY Palestinian Arabs. The Palestinian Arabs only became refugees as a result of two wars started by their leaders, and/or by the leaders of neighboring Arab states, these being the 1948 and 1967 wars.”

1. How could have been realized the jewish homeland according to the UN partition plan, without dispelling the Arabs from the region which was ought to be Israel?

2. Isn’t it true that the Irgun and other military forces threatened Palastinian Arabs to leave their homes or they would get killed otherwise?

Thanks in advance for giving more details.

Posted by Wagner | Report as abusive
 

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