Friday, July 01, 2005

Heavy burden of peace falls on Israel July 1, 2005

Heavier burden of peace based on two-states falls on Israel
Creators Syndicate, July 1, 2005
By Ray Hanania

Whether or not Israel does succeed in evacuating its settlers and soldiers from the Gaza Strip, the move will only fuel continued conflict not end it.

There is only one solution and that is the two-state solution. And the two-state solution is only viable if certain steps are taken by both sides that go way beyond the demands set by Israel and the United States on the Palestinians.

The real burden for peace is on Israel. Either Israelis accept the inevitability of a viable Palestinian State or they accept the reality of endless conflict.

Some Israelis view the fate of the Palestinians as being that of the Native American Indians who were overwhelmed by White European settlers so much that they were eventually pushed to the point of marginalized submission.

In the end, the Americans did not have to compromise with the Native Americans at all. They continued to lie, signing treaty after treaty they knew would either be broken by angry Indians driven by the unfairness of the conflict and broken pride or by the needs of their own growing population.

That’s the difference. The enormous population growth of the European settlers was so great that the Native Americans were marginalized to near oblivion.

Israel’s population has no where to grow. Severing off Palestinian population areas, like the Gaza Strip, is only a short-term answer.

You can see much of the same "conquest greed" in the Israelis that drove the American settlers. But it is blinding Israelis from the only real answer to their survival. Working towards anything but a viable two-state solution only guarantees the conflict will never end.

For the two-state solution to work, Israelis and Palestinians must both set aside their pride and accept a few realities.

The two-state solution is impossible if Palestinians insist that all of the refugees Israel forcibly evicted from the country in 1948 (and later in 1967, too) will have to be returned.

It’s not going to happen. Most Palestinians know it won’t happen but in the face of their continued dispossession, they are afraid to admit it. Pride not reason keeps them from accepting that truth.

On its part, there can be no real peace if Israel insists on selfishly controlling all of Jerusalem and preserving most of the illegal settlements in the West Bank like Gilo and Ariel.

Either Israel accepts the fate that all of the settlements must be dismantled, or negotiates a compromise where the settlers become a part of the Palestinian state. Two-states are not possible if the settlements remain.

And two-states are worthless answers if they do not involve a real sharing of Jerusalem, not the fake sharing plan that Israel offered a few years back.

Waiting in the shadows are the extremists and rejectionists and both sides who hope for unrealistic dreams of pushing the other into the sea. They will use the oppression of the conflict to fuel a resistance that will keep the conflict alive for generations to come.

There may be lulls in the conflict. But Palestinians will not become for Israel what Native Americans have become for Americans, wealthy but powerless casino operators and tribal tourist attractions.

Israelis need not fear a strategic Palestinian plan to destroy it. The Palestinians can’t win. But they can prevent Israel from winning.

There is a genuine opportunity to make peace happen, but it will take Israel to take the initial steps defined in a broader vision that defines a future of two-states, side by side and in peace.

It will require both sides to make concessions that today seem equally tough and painful, but in a future defined by peace will no doubt be worth the price paid.


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