Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Attitudes Stop Israeli/Palestinian Peace

Changes needed to allow both sides to sufficiently compromise.

By Liam Bailey

To achieve a lasting peace in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict some major compromises are needed from all parties. Unfortunately, because of the duration of the conflict, attitudes, policies, strategies and aims have become so engrained that such compromises have become extremely difficult. The number of people killed in the conflict has also become a factor in each side's reluctance to compromise. The additional cause now and for many years has been to ensure that those killed did not die in vain.

The Palestinian Perspective:

More Palestinians have been killed in the struggle than Israelis. Therefore the Palestinians have a greater weight on their shoulders to avenge their deaths by gaining the state and conditions they died in the fight for. However this also gives the Palestinians the greater desire for peace because as the conflict goes on they will continue to be the biggest losers in terms of civilian casualties.

The Palestinians have also come to believe that Israel does not want peace, because of the provocative tactics employed by the IDF during ceasefires and negotiations. Like the West Bank arrest raids during the recent ceasefire, and the current operation in Nablus, which has dampened hopes of restarting the stalled peace process. Israel's failure to adhere to previous peace deals, like the settlement expansions contrary to the U.S. brokered roadmap agreement, reinforces the Palestinian view.

As does the West Bank "security" wall Israel's government is building. Mainly because the Palestinians negotiations rely on the formation of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, in places the wall is well inside these borders. Palestinian Negotiations Minister Saib Uraiqat told Al Jazeera Mar. 2005:

"This is a policy of dictation and not negotiation, this prejudges and prejudices the outcome of permanent status negotiations."

This prevents the Palestinians from making any further concessions or compromise, because the concessions they have made in the past, --like the Palestine Liberation Organization's recognition of Israel-- have brought nothing in return. In their resistance lies their dignity, and their dignity is almost all they have left.

The Israeli Perspective:

The Israeli government has received heavy financial and military support from the U.S. throughout decades of conflict, they may well doubt whether this would continue if they were no longer under threat from Palestinian terror. Although the U.S. supports Israel because it is keen to keep an ally in a position of supremacy in the vital Middle East region, Israel being under threat certainly makes it easier to justify such heavy support to the U.S. public.

The Israeli government also has strong remnants of the Zionist movement that was the driving force behind the creation of the Jewish state on the very land so symbolically important to the Jewish faith. As Israeli academic and author, Ilan Pape told me in a recent interview, "Israel is an unfinished project of statehood." The Zionists crave certain lands that they believe religious heritage has dictated for the final Jewish state, hence Israel's reluctance to define borders. To this end the conflict is necessary because it diverts attention from Zionist transgressions and because the Palestinian threat begets strong security measures, like occupying Palestinian land whenever necessary and the --desired land annexing-- security wall. These measures are also extremely provocative and fuel the vicious cycle of --necessary-- violence.

The wall has been deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice. And the United Nations Security Council has tried many times to issue resolutions against the high civilian death toll of IDF operations, occupations and Israel's transgression of human rights laws, as well as taking measures to bring about Israel's adherence with past resolutions. The U.S. has used its veto almost every time to prevent the UNSC from condemning Israel's activities. Over the years the U.S.' unquestioning support for Israel has become engrained in the Washington psyche.

The duration of the conflict has also allowed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to become one of the strongest lobbying groups in the U.S., its primary objective is ensuring continued U.S. support for Israel. Until Israel is held accountable for its actions, the Zionist element will remain strong and will continue to strive for its dream at the expense of peace and the Palestinian population.

The threat that makes this possible is constantly manipulated to present fear for Israel's existence and to allow constant reminders of the holocaust and the guilt we should all feel, --especially the U.S.-- for failing to stop it. This aim was helped by the Hamas charter calling for the destruction of Israel, despite the fact that Hamas has never been close to having the means to achieve this aim. It is this manipulation that makes the Israeli population support its government's reluctance to compromise for peace. Because the fear of Palestinian terrorism is amplified so the Israeli population believes that giving them their own state would not stop the terror, and in fact the terror groups would continue to force the Israeli government to concede more and more land.

This view was strengthened after the Gaza disengagement. Because the Israeli government evicted Jewish residents to allow for the withdrawal, in Israel it was seen as a significant concession by the government, but the terror continued.

The terror continued because the Palestinians were still under the Israeli microscope, still had no control of their border and were still enduring flyovers and high decibel sonic booms from Israeli fighter jets, thought to cause pregnant women to miscarry. Thus Palestinians saw the disengagement as creating an open air prison and a propaganda tactic to strengthen support for Israel's government at their expense. It worked, like all similar tactics in the past, the disengagement strengthened the Israeli view, that their government wants only peace. The provocative actions over the years suggest the opposite.

Needed for Peace:

The Palestinians too, are guilty of allowing other issues to cloud their judgment and supersede their desire for peace. It is the Israeli government though that needs to take the first step.

Until Israel puts Zionism back in its box --having served its purpose--, and makes some sort of compromise to counter the Palestinian views caused by the years of the cruel occupation and Zionist land grabs, there will be no compromise from the Palestinians. Until there is compromise from the Palestinians, especially over the right of return, which Israel cannot grant because it would end their Jewish status, there will be no final status agreements and no lasting peace.

Israel won't take the first step until the international community starts holding it accountable for its actions, and this won't happen until the U.S. stops shielding it from the UNSC. This, if it ever happens will likely come in line with U.S. pressure on Israel to commit to achieving a lasting peace with the Palestinians, and perhaps a threat to withdraw support if they don't. This would put significant pressure on the Israeli government to commit to peace, but will only happen if U.S. interests in the region change drastically.

If Israel committed unquestioningly to peace, after the initial doubts, it would undoubtedly trigger a similar commitment from the Palestinian population and government. Such a commitment from both sides is what is really needed to end this conflict.


vargusvictor said...

How much terrorism (both economic and the regular kind) do you think the US would face if the US govt actually began to make noises about ending support for Israel in ANY way? You yourself said, and I believe it to be true, that the Zionists will not rest until Ersatz Israel is achieved (and the rest of the Jews inside and outside of Israel will not object). After closely studying the history of the Jewish state (stern gang, terrorism , espionage and all), I personally believe that we would have a hell of a fight on our hands and in the end, Israel being a "nucular" state and all, I am not so sure that the US population (nor the US government) have the stomach, nor the heart or even the will to actually move against Israel especially if Israelists, Zionists and the remaining Jews and Jew supporters decided to stand firm against any talk of US policy changes.

Liam Bailey said...

Israel has been lying about wanting peace, about wanting a two state solution for years, all the while annexing enough land to make such a solution almost impossible. I personally believe the U.S. could threaten to withdraw support unless Israel does what it claims to have been doing for years and committs to peace. Israel relies on U.S. military support for its survival, I think its survival is more important than its overall land-grabbing aims. Basically what i am trying to say is the U.S. has more leverage with Israel than vice versa.