The question I’m asking here is this: A lot of attention is being paid to the question of Israel’s actions against the Palestinian Authority. A heap of international pressure (with quite a helping from the US) is being piled on Israel to “settle” and “make peace” with the “Palestinians.” But, isn’t this is a short-sighted goal?
The fact of the matter is, whether you blame the Israelis for trampling the rights of the “Palestinians” or you blame the “Palestinians” for unjustified terrorist attacks against Israelis, you’re missing the point. The Palestinian Problem is not the cause of the current unrest in the MidEast; It’s a result. Ending the current hostilities is a short-sighted goal that will do nothing to keep the same from happening again. Soon.
That is a very good point, but ending the current situation the right way may bring about a lasting peace. What is the right way? IMO, the Palestinians must have a state, the territory must be equitably established. The Israelis must have a guarantee of security, and that means from the international community, not just from Palestine. The question is will the radical factions on both sides allow this? The Israeli government can enforce a peace on their side, Palestine has yet to be established, but with the current leadership it is doubtful that they can enforce anything on their end. And once and for all, Israel should not be in a position to justify their existence. Most of the countries in the area are far from being historical fact, so for them to not recognize Israel is nonsense on the face of it.
Dealing with terrorism is not an easy business; those who blame Israel for cruelty toward Palestinians should try their hand at it, and see how they do at protecting a population while trying to go after murderers in another crowded population. Not a simple task at all. No doubt that a resolution of this issue must be included in any long-term peace.
I have another question to add to yours, if you don’t mind sdimbert. We have seen some horrible wars in the last hundred years, and yet the parties involved in those wars have moved on to a peaceful and co-operative existence. Why is this region so different?
[li]“Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel.”[/li]-Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, May 27, 1967
[li]“The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear - to wipe Israel off the map.”[/li]-Iraqui President Abdel Rahman Aref, May 31, 1967
[li]“The goal of our struggle is the end of Israel, and there can be no compromise.”[/li]-PLO Chairman Yassar Arafat, Washington Post, March 29, 1970
[li]“The battle with Israel must be such tat, after it, Israel will cease to exist.”[/li]-Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi, Algiers Radio, November 12, 1973
And if those don’t resonate enough, consider this:
Nothing has changed since 1948. The words are still the same, and still, no one believes them.
Those quotes are kind of old, don’t you think, sdimbert? Things can change over the decades: Camp David way back in 1978 removed the Egyptian context from the above, and this is from the recent Beirut Declaration:
[quote] Expectations from Israel
[list=A][li]Complete withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the 4 June 1967 line and the territories still occupied in southern Lebanon.Attain a just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees to be agreed upon in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution No 194.Accept the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since 4 June 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital.[/list]In return the Arab states will do the following:[ul]Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict over, sign a peace agreement with Israel, and achieve peace for all states in the regionEstablish normal relations with Israel within the framework of this comprehensive peace[/ul][/li][/quote]
(My emphasis) You may not trust their words, but what other basis is there for peace? Though the words of Arafat are indeed chilling, 18 years later:
(Before anyone jumps on this, yes I know it was never written down put on their website, but I am responding quote-for-quote with a 2 year old cite, not an 18-year-old one).
sdimbert, it’s not like there’s a choice.
The Palestinians aren’t going anywhere. Your choices:
1 - Annex the territories, which would immediately turn Israel into a majority Arab state.
2 - Continue the occupation. Another non-starter.
3 - Return the West Bank to Jordan, and the Gaza to Egypt. Forget it, they don’t want them back.
4 - So the only thing left is negotiating acceptable terms for a Palestinian state.
All of the arguing for a while and until this gets settled will be over what constitutes “acceptable terms”. It may not bring complete peace & security, but it’ll be a sight better than the current status quo.
pantom, you say, “the only thing left is negotiating acceptable terms for a Palestinian state.”
Had the Arab States in the region not attacked in 1948 in an attempt to block the UN Partition Plan, The Republic of Palestine would today be celebrating it’s 44th anniversary. Or, had they not started a half-a-dozen wars with Israel since then, they might have settled the conflict long ago.
From 1948 to 1967, the West Bank and Gaza were under Arab rule with no Jewish “settlers.” Despite this opportunity, no attempts at the creation of a “Palestinian Homeland” were undertaken by any Arab nation. Instead, Egypt occupied Gaza and Jordan the West Bank.
No demands were ever made for an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza until after Israel took control of those areas in the Six-Day War.
In the 1950’s, tiny Israel absorbed 820,000 Jews that had been driven from the surrounding Arab states. Those Arab nations - which together cover over 5,000,000 square miles - have space and money enough to absorb the “Palestinians.” They always have.
This refusal to ameliorate the suffering of these people demonstrates that these Arab nations are more interested in using the refugees as a political weapon in the War Against Israel they they are in solving their problems.
I return to my point: The plight of the “Palestinian” Refugees is not the problem here; it is the result of a conflict which stems from the Arab unwillingness to accept the existence of a Jewish State in the MidEast.
Now, pantom, tell me: How does Israel “negotiate” with the people who said the things I quoted in my OP?
No, jjimm, I’m not ignoring your comments… I’m still thinking about how to respond. You see, I started a new thread precisely to avoid some of the complications you’re raising.
The history of the MidEast Arab/Israeli Peace Conflict goes back to at least 1948. Actually, it started earlier than that, but before then, there was no “Israel.”
In any case, I needed a place to start, and I chose one. You see, recent events made me realize that I didn’t know enough about the history to have an informed opinion. So I started reading. And now I’m trying to understand what I’ve read.
The things you posted are accurate… in a sense. But I believe (and this is the point of this thread) that the real issue began earlier, is much simpler, and is worthy of our attention.
The plain fact of the matter is that the Arab nations of the MidEast are opposed to the existence of a Jewish state. Totally. Without compromise. Any negotiations that have occured since 1948 are, in my mind, tainted by this pre-disposition. I want to establish this point because I believe it’s been hidden (by design) by the history of agreements made - and broken - by Arafat and other Arab leaders.
Today’s media coverage is too concerned with the Conflict Of The Day ™ to juxtapose it with its history.
pantom, negotiating would be nice…but negotiation requires give-and-take. At Camp David in 2000, Yassir Arafat received an offer he didn’t like. But instead of making a counter-offer, he just left the table. What would you recommend Israel do in light of that…even if we ignore the hostilities that arose since then?
Arafat aside, the argument about this predisposition from neighbouring states (and ‘buffer zones’ by extension) doesn’t ring true. As I said before, all the quotes you have provided are very old. There has been negotiation in recent years, and in the offer from the Arab League, a committment to the acceptance of Israel of a state has been offered.
I think many of us in the West have a glib view of how to ‘fix’ the problem, without realising how many small steps need to be taken towards peace. For the entire Arab League to put this offer on the table in return only for Israel pulling back to pre-67 borders is one of the most important things that Israel has been offered since its creation. Furthermore I don’t think we have any idea of quite how hard it must have been for all members to agree. Eyal Benvenisti from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, writing in the Ha’aretz Daily, agrees with me. IMO this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance.
“Speak softly and carry a big stick”, of course, but to dismiss all negotiation and agreements based on the terrible events of the past is not the way to negotiate peace, and would surely condemn Israel to eternal paranoia.
The plain fact of the matter is that the Arab nations of the MidEast are opposed to the existence of a Jewish state. Totally. Without compromise.
In the name of all that’s good, sdimbert, how long is the past the present to you? For 25 years Egypt has been at peace with Israel and made no agressive moves toward it. Would 50 years be sufficient for you to believe that Egypt no longer is opposed to the existence of a Jewish state “totally. Without compromise?” A hundred years? And while Jordan didn’t sign a peace treaty until the mid-90s, it’s been cooperating with Israel for decades.
Peace can be made between Arabs and Israelis. The question for the Israel and the remaining enemies is what can make that peace come about.
To believe otherwise is to believe that people and beliefs can’t change. And, of course, they can.
First of all, I agree that peace between Israel and its surrounding Arab neighbors is possible. Witness the relations with Egypt and Jordan. PROBABLE, however, is another matter.
May I point out that neither of those states has an active population dedicated to the destruction of Israel? It’s fairly easy to maintain peaceful relations with a neighbor that isn’t attacking you. (These are generalizations, I realize…there probably ARE some people in both Egypt and Jordan that want to/are engaged in attacking Israel; but they are a minority, and they certainly don’t have their governments active support/backing).
Maybe I’m being simplistic, but to me this is clear: Egypt recognized Israel and signed a peace treaty…and Israel turned over territories taken from Egypt by war and has not attacked Egypt since. Jordan recognized Israel and signed a peace treaty…and Israel has not attacked Jordan since!!! To me, even the densest of individuals should be able to realize that the surest way to peace with Israel is to STOP ATTACKING IT!!! And I’d be willing to bet that if Israel WERE to be assured that they WERE at peace, that there were going to be no more bombings, that Israel (and probably with huge financial backing from the good old USofA) would work very hard to re-build the infrastructure of whatever Palestinian state that is established. Trading partners and all that…
But as of right now (4-12-2002), there are still substantial numbers of Palestinian Arabs, Iraqi Arabs, Saudi Arabian Arabs…Arabs…who want nothing more (AND HAVE NEVER DENIED) than the complete eradication of the Israeli state. Permanently and forever.
No wonder peace in the Middle East is so hard to abtain.
cmkeller and sdimbert, I agree with you about the difficulty of negotiating. As of now, there isn’t anyone to negotiate with.
But there really isn’t a choice. Yes, Yasir Arafat has proven himself, to my satisfaction, to be an unrepentant terrorist. Yes, the Arab attitude is one of ignoring Israeli civilian casualties whilst playing up Palestinian ones, simultaneously ignoring the difference between casualties caused as a result of war and casualties deliberately inflicted as a tactic of terrorism. ( See any thread started by our own tclouie for a real-time illustration of this asymmetrical attitude in action. (Alliteration! Wow!) )
All of this is true. None of it changes the basic fact that Gaza is not going back to Egypt, the West Bank isn’t going back to Jordan, the occupation can’t go on forever, and Israel can’t annex them without causing a) a large uproar and possibly a truly cataclysmic war and b) snuffing out its own existence as a Jewish state by the simple act of doing so.
Hard facts, but even Sharon realizes that eventually there will have to be a Palestinian state, and that eventually he will have to negotiate with someone.
First, as I have stated elsewhere, the militant Islamic fundamentalists have to be ruthlessly and mercilessly dealt with, as do all the other terrorists. Bush has to step back and let Sharon do what he has to do. After that, though, somehow some common ground is going to have to be found somewhere. Don’t ask me where; I’m not that wise, especially after these last two years of unrelenting terrorism. It’s just that it really is an unavoidable necessity.