Friday, June 10, 2005

Palestinians should annex Jewish settlers, June 10, 2005

Palestinians should formally annex Jewish settlements
Creators Syndicate, June 10, 2005
By Ray Hanania

Leaders of three Jewish settlements slated for evacuation in the West Bank are asking the Palestinian Authority to allow them to remain, creating a unique opportunity to show how the Palestinian leadership differs from rejectionists on both sides.

While Israel continues its policies of expelling Palestinians, confiscating land and restricting access to Jerusalem, Palestinians can show how wrong those actions are by doing something right.

Israel has announced plans to unilaterally evacuate the Gaza Strip, four settlements in the West Bank and to turn over to Palestinians control of five major cities. So far, Israel has given Palestinians control of only two cities and the settlement evacuations have faced opposition with some settlers threatening violence.

In contract, the West Bank settlers have appealed to the Palestinians asking the PNA for asylum to remain in the West Bank which will someday become the heart of a Palestinian state.

Asylum sounds reasonable. It would distinguish Palestinians from Israel in a positive way. For far too long, Palestinians have built their society around the conventions of Israeli history and policies.

Too often, Palestinian actions are the result of Israeli provocations, rather than on the basis of well though out strategic moves designed to strengthen not weaken the Palestinian position.

When Ariel Sharon visited the Haram al-Ash Sharif that Israelis call the Temple Mount in late 2000, Palestinians reacted to his action by launching an Intifada that only increased in violence as Israeli responded with more violence itself.

When an Israeli settler massacred 29 Palestinians who were praying at a Hebron Mosque in 1994, Hamas responded by the first of a long string of suicide bombings intended as "retaliation."

Even in public relations community building, the Palestinians seem to always follow Israel’s lead. Condemning Israel’s program to plant trees in honor of Jewish donors, Palestinians did the same for their own.

The pattern of Palestinian reaction politics has failed and must end. The plea from the settlers could reverse a long line of failed Palestinian strategies.

In the notion of compromise based on two sovereign states, nothing precludes Palestinians from living in Israel or Jews living in Palestine.

The concept is to eventually allow Jews and non-Jews to live anywhere, without undermining the concept of a sovereign Jewish State and a sovereign Palestinian state.

This can only come after some measure of trust is restored, and violent extremists on both sides are reigned in, disarmed or jailed.

It gives Palestinians the opportunity to recapture the moral high ground, rather than seeing the justice of their cause undermined by an endless series of reaction and retaliation.

By accepting Jewish settlers who wish to remain in Palestine, Palestinian leaders can demonstrate that their differences with Israel are not based on anti-Semitism, as many extremist supporters of Israel often assert, and are founded on solid objections to Israeli policy.

Palestinians do not discriminate and should not discriminate. By embracing those Jewish settlers who wish to live in a free, Democratic Palestine, Palestinians will be changing their predictable course of always reacting to Israeli policies and actions.

If the three West Bank Jewish settlements can be assimilated into Palestinian society, what will prevent that from becoming the model in dealing with the more complex challenges of the larger Jewish settlements like Gilo and Ariel that Israel is now seeking to keep?

These and other major settlements were originally built by Israel as security outposts after the 1967 war. The lands were illegally confiscated from Palestinian owners. With the passage of time, and continued faltering of the Palestinian position, Israel now hopes to keep most of the major settlements, even as a part of negotiations.

Let Gilo, Ariel and the other settlement blocs remain as a part of a two-state compromise, but seek to put them under the control of a Palestinian government with the Jewish settlers living under Palestinian law.

Some Israeli Jews may chose to not remain. But others might. Those that opt to participate in a future Palestinian State should be welcomed, not rejected.


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