Sunday, March 14, 2010

Do Israelis And Palestinians Want Peace?

This has been a particularly disheartening week in terms of Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. Speaking in Jerusalem, Vice President Joseph Biden guaranteed America's support for Israel's security, only to hear an announcement from the country's Interior Ministry calling for 1,600 housing units for settlement in Arab East Jerusalem. Both Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned the move.

Thomas Friedman (left), in "Driving Drunk In Jerusalem," warned Israel that its settlements policy in East Jerusalem and the West Bank continues to undermine prospects for peace:

...Israel needs a wake-up call. Continuing to build settlements in the West Bank, and even housing in disputed East Jerusalem, is sheer madness. Yasir Arafat accepted that Jewish suburbs there would be under Israeli sovereignty in any peace deal that would also make Arab parts of East Jerusalem the Palestinian capital. Israel’s planned housing expansion now raises questions about whether Israel will ever be willing to concede a Palestinian capital in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem — a big problem.

Israel has already bitten off plenty of the West Bank. If it wants to remain a Jewish democracy, its only priority now should be striking a deal with the Palestinians that would allow it to swap those settlement blocs in the West Bank occupied by Jews for an equal amount of land from Israel for the Palestinians and then reap the benefits — economic and security — of ending the conflict.

Also disheartening was the dedication by Palestinians of a public square in El Bireh, West Bank, to the memory of Dalal Mughrabi. Why was she paid this tribute?

The woman being honored, Dalal Mughrabi, was the 19-year-old leader of a Palestinian squad that sailed from Lebanon and landed on a beach between Haifa and Tel Aviv. They killed an American photojournalist, hijacked a bus and commandeered another, embarking on a bloody rampage that left 38 Israeli civilians dead, 13 of them children, according to official Israeli figures. Ms. Mughrabi and several other attackers were killed.

Mughrabi was part of the deadliest terrorist attack in Israeli history. In addition, the Palestinians honoring Mughrabi weren't from Hamas, but from the youth division of Fatah, the group supposedly dedicated to a two-state solution with Israel.

Ultimately, the United States can't want an end to the conflict more than the Israelis and Palestinians do.

1 comment:

mjmand said...

I found Friedman's essay to be a validation of my belief that Israel has become its own worst enemy. On the other hand there was a letter to the editor in response to Friedman. Gary Williams of Palo Alto, CA, wrote: "...it is the Palestinians who are not getting the real message presented by Israel's actions: get serious about peace or lose more land and more territory to Israel's expansion.

Perhaps the only way to stop Israel from continuing to build...is to agree to peace talks without preconditions."

Both sides make excellent points.