Israelis and Palestinians Should Work Hand-in-Hand at the UN

The commotion over Obama’s mention of 1967 lines was fabricated and perpetrated mostly by those who either oppose a Palestinian state out right or who are unfamiliar with the issues. For an explanation of how the borders can work go here.

The Israelis and the Palestinians are
together at the UN and something good should develop. Let’s look at a variety
of solution alternatives that ultimately lead to the selection of the two-state
solution as the only viable possibility. If both Netanyahu and Abbas are
serious about the peace they spoke so eloquently about then they should do
something about it now. The Israelis and Palestinians should go hand-in-hand to
the United Nations and seize the moment by both agreeing to support the other.
Consider some of the options advanced in the past but continue to drain the
energies of each even though they are not realistic. I will dispatch with a few
of these options quickly because they are nonstarters with no chance of serious

to Palestine
: This is the Palestinian fantasy that
Israel goes away and historic Palestine is reconstituted. Hamas would support
such a position and seek the goal of an Islamic Palestinian territory free of
the alien contamination of the Jews. No one can imagine Israel simply packing
up and leaving and an insistence on such a position would result only in

to Judea and Samaria
: This is the settler fantasy of
greater Israel. It’s the opposite vision of the one above where the
Palestinians disappear. It calls for Israeli control of all territories in the
Jewish state composed of a minority group that are not citizens. The
Palestinians would return to Jordan and receive Jordanian citizenship. This is
equally as naïve since Palestinians don’t see themselves as Jordanian citizens
and, even more problematic, the Jordanians don’t want them. The solution would
leave many Palestinians homeless, with essentially no place to go. It’s a
recipe for mass confusion and violence.

Binational State
: this is a position supported by
many on the left – the outskirts of the left – where both Palestinians and Jews
live together happily in a state composed of two dominant groups, Israelis and
Palestinians. This would mean the end of the Jewish state called Israel and of
course would not be a Palestinian state either. Israelis and Palestinians would
form a joint government and political institutions. This solution is also
supposed to solve the problem of Israel’s democracy. Israel cannot call itself
a fully articulated democracy when about 20 % of its citizens are
disenfranchised. The solution also has the problem of eliminating Israel as a
Jewish state. Those who believe any political culture associated with ethnicity
or religion is a remnant of ancient tribalism, from which we have evolved away,
are sympathetic to this position. This solution would probably exacerbate the
problem rather than resolve it. The disagreements and conflicts between the two
cultures would intensify and probably result in violence. This solution is
equally as naïve. It means the loss of a Jewish state as well as no state for
the Palestinians. The issues of Hamas in Gaza would be very difficult to
imagine. Israel also worries about the demographic factor; that is, over time
the population of Palestinians would overwhelm the Jewish population.

None of these solutions are realistic or
even in the realm of possibility in some cases. The two state solution is crucial
and the answer to the problems of both cultures. Neither side will get
everything it wants, but that’s how compromise and conflict resolution work.
The peace process has disintegrated, the spirit of Oslo has dissipated, and the
two sides engage in continual mistrust and blame. If the two state solution is
not implemented soon Israel will continue to be at a disadvantage with respect
to the demographic argument, international opinion, and security. True, there
is much yet to be worked out such as refugees, borders (see below), and rights of
return but this is what renewed peace talks must take up.

Should Happen
: Israel must reverse course and support
the Palestinian aspirations. But do it on some preconditions. The first
precondition is that Palestinians return to the table and begin final status
discussions. Secondly, the Palestinians must agree to bilateral negotiations.
Third, both states must be recognized; that is, Israel as Jewish and Palestine
as the home of the Palestinians. Once issues such as refugees have been
resolved, and once the Palestinians accept a two state solution, they should
have no trouble recognizing Israel as “Jewish.”

The two state solution should affirm the
right of self determination for both Jews and Palestinians, and all historic
claims, and agree on territorial swaps and security arrangements that satisfy
both parties. Israel should assist the Palestinians with further security
developments in the West Bank, and settlement development, and freeze
construction of the security wall. The Palestinians should refrain from
international campaigns against Israel and reject the extreme positions
associated with Hamas.

Two states – one Jewish and one
Palestinian – are inevitable. It’s the only solution to the problem and the one
accepted by the majority of both Israelis and Palestinians. Israel should
support the Palestinians and get on with it.



About Donald Ellis

Professor Emeritus at the University of Hartford.

Posted on September 25, 2011, in Communication and Conflict Resolution, Israel and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Israelis and Palestinians Should Work Hand-in-Hand at the UN.

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