Thursday, September 08, 2011

This is not the right time for recognition of a Palestinian state

A friend asks why I believe that the time, and the terms and conditions, are NOT right for recognition of a Palestinian state right now.

Here is the text of my response:

Dear ...

I could write a long mail in answer to that question!

But, to be brief:

1. It is clear, objectively, that a 2-state solution is the only one that is fair. However, a majority of Palestinians oppose a 2-state solution. On the other side, a majority of Israelis are not convinced that a Palestinian State would be governable by any reasonable political party: they are concerned that a so-called Palestinian State would amount to, not a settlement of the Palestinian issue, but a launching pad for further attacks against Israel. Considering the "moderate" Erdogan's statement today that he will send convoys with armed ships NOT to the place designated by Israel for the receipt of humanitarian supplies (Ashdod) but to Gaza, this clearly shows that even "moderate" muslims are more intent on provoking Israel to war than to helping Palestinians with humanitarian assistance.

2. Most of the money that has gone to assist Palestine has come from Europe, and very little of that has gone into actual humanitarian assistance - it has either been corruptly siphoned off for personal benefit, or gone into the acquisition of guns and rockets. That certainly does not create confidence in the ability or willingness of Palestinians to govern themselves.

3. If we take the Oslo peace process as a starting point, that was based on Israel enabling Palestinians to run their own politics and economics, in exchange for Palestinians renouncing violence and promoting peaceful co-existence (including recognition of Israel). Neither side delivered fully on its commitments - though in my assessment, the Israelis did perhaps a little more than the Palestinians. For example, in 2005 Israel withdrew substantially from the Gaza Strip, but that did not lead to any reduction of violent attacks against Israel. Today, while Fatah claims to be willing to foster co-existence in the context of a 2-state solution, they have leaders such as Mahmoud Abbas who publicly state that Israel should not exist at all. In any case, Fatah is clearly the minority party at present among Palestinians, and the majority party, Hamas, is by its very nature opposed to Israel's right to exist (its charter itself makes this clear, and that is the essence of what makes Hamas different from Fatah).

4. The Arab Peace Initiative is a comprehensive proposal, and the two sides have discussed it off and on - though the Israelis of course have some disagreements with it, I think it could have a chance of success. Clearly, Erdogan and others are concerned precisely by the fact that it might succeed and are determined to torpedo any discussion between the two sides.

5. In my view, the Palestinians have the worse quality of life (compared to Israelis) so of course we sympathise with them. However, they are simply being used as pawns by extremist Islamists, who do not want Israel to exist at all. The Arab world has plenty of money and could easily have looked after their brother Palestinians if they had wished to do so.

6. In any case, the questions in relation to the 2-state solution are basically:
(a) Can Israel contain its extremists? (Answer: yes, and it does so whenever it wants to)
(b) Can the Arabs contain their extremists? (Answer: no, even when they do want to do so).

Conclusion: A 2-state solution can only be reached if a (preferably united) Arab force is able and willing to commit itsef to containing its own extremists. That does not appear to be the case at present.

I hope the above is enough for a short answer

Of course, you and others are free to disagree with my view, as there is no shortage of points of view in this matter.

Warm regards

Prabhu Sphere: Related Content

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