Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Different perspectives ...

Many people may often casually wonder why it has been so difficult to achieve peace here between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. Some people with whom I have spoken often chalk it up to the fact that the two sides hate each other — always have, always will.

I do not believe that is the case. The problem as I see it comes from the fact that the two sides view the conflict from fundamentally opposing perspectives. Both Israelis and Palestinians on the whole view themselves as the aggrieved party in the conflict. Additionally on the most sensitive issues in the conflict the two sides hold diametrically opposed positions. Consider this statement from a recent article on Electronic Intifada, titled "What do Palestinians really think? "

Almost 70 percent of Palestinians under occupation, according to the poll, adhere to the right of "return of all refugees to their original land." Another 12 percent envisage the return of only some refugees to their original lands. Just seven percent of those polled agreed with the position that no refugees should return home at all.

Eighty-two percent opposed allowing Israel to retain control of "major settlement blocs inside the West Bank in exchange for equal Israeli land," and 94 percent rejected "keeping Israel's authority in the area of Al-Aqsa mosque" in Jerusalem.
I will not go into the details of these particular issues here at this moment, but I will offer that Israeli opinion on the refugee issue, settlements, and the Temple Mount stand mostly in opposition to the Palestinian positions presented above.

The article continues on to talk about Palestinian perspectives on the two-state solution as a whole.

Peace process industry propagandists routinely claim that a two-state solution is overwhelmingly supported by the vast majority of Palestinians. This has never been true (millions of Palestinian refugees and exiles outside the country have never been included in elections, and are not regularly polled). This poll indicates that among Palestinians under occupation, support for a two-state solution is at just 51 percent (49 percent in the West Bank and 54 percent in Gaza). At the same time support for "a binational state in all of Palestine where Palestinians and Israeli [sic] enjoy equal representation and rights" is now supported by 30 percent (roughly similar in both territories).

The above passage, as well as the rest of the article makes it clear that the author does not support a two-state solution. This is unfortunate. While the author may offer various pleasant sounding alternatives with well-crafted labels such as one-state or binational state, all of these proposals are nothing more than elaborate and create ways to dismantle the State of Israel. The author is essentially denying the Jewish People the right to self-determination.

If the author’s claims are true, and the Palestinian public does not support, and indeed never supported a two-state solution, then the prospects for peace in the region are as slim as they have ever been.

The Arab acceptance of the two-state solution framework was the turning point that made peace seem possible. It signaled that the Arabs had turned away from their previous policies of rejection and irredentism, and had finally recognized the fundamental legitimacy of the Jewish state. Any movement to erode this position can only serve to push the region towards further violence and conflict.

The author, and the Palestinians as a whole are entitled to their perspectives. But I fail to see how this fundamentally aggressive viewpoint will achieve any positive results.

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