An op-ed article in today's Boston Globe by the executive director of the American Task Force on Palestine and the spokesman for Americans for Peace Now demonstrates that Arab and Jewish Americans can work together for an historic compromise, "a grand deal that a majority of Israelis and Palestinians have repeatedly said they support," namely, "an end to Israeli territorial claims in the West Bank and an end to Palestinian claims inside Israel."
"The question is not whether a two-state solution is attainable. The question is whether Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans will exercise the political will to make it happen." If Arab and Jewish American organizations can work together to achieve an end-of-conflict, two-state peace between Israel and Palestine, surely we here at DKos ought to be involved with them.
The only alternative is perpetual conflict, with one or both sides engaged in the futile, and morally abhorrent, effort to defeat the other.
Israeli and Palestinian hard-liners say there will be peace only when the other side is defeated. Surrender is not an option for either side, as we have seen in 20 years of on-again-off-again violence. But repeated Israeli attempts to defeat the Palestinians militarily have not brought Israel security. And Palestinian violent resistance has hurt the Palestinian economy, people, and cause rather than force Israel to end the occupation. Neither side can defeat the other, make the other disappear, or drive the other away.
The other alternative is propounded by those, mainly on the Palestinian (and Israeli) far left, who support a "one-state solution," the revival of the old chimera of a binational Israeli-Palestinian state. This two-headed monster is as unrealistic and undesirable today as it ever was. A binational state means, for all practical purposes, dismantling the state of Israel. Would Israeli Jews ever accept that? Would Palestinians -- or anyone else, for that matter -- ever be able to impose it? Why should Israelis give up on their dream and why should Palestinians give up on their yearning for a national homeland? And how would the two communities share in government and administration?
The map on the left, from the American Task Force on Palestine illustrates the international consensus on a future Palestinian State. Not surprisingly, it is consistent with maps illustrating the Clinton Peace Parameters by Shlomo Ben-Ami, Ehud Barak's dovish Foreign Minister and author of Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy, and President Clinton's chief peace negotiator, Dennis Ross; as well as the joint Israeli-Palestinian Geneva Initiative.
As The Economist writes in its current lead editorial, Israel's wasted victory: "For peace to come, Israel must give up the West Bank and share Jerusalem; the Palestinians must give up the dream of return and make Israel feel secure as a Jewish state. All the rest is detail."
The American Task Force on Palestine "advocates the following six principles towards a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
- Two sovereign states—Israel and Palestine—living side by side in peace and security based on the borders of June 4, 1967 with mutually agreed upon territorial adjustments.
- An end to the Israeli occupation and the evacuation of all Israeli settlements, save for equitable arrangements mutually agreed upon by the negotiating parties.
- A just solution for the Palestinian refugee problem, in accordance with international legality and the relevant UN resolutions.
- A shared Jerusalem open to all faiths, serving as the capital of two states, providing for the fulfillment of the political aspirations of both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.
- Full acceptance of Israel by all Arab states, and normalized diplomatic and economic relations throughout the region.
- A 'Marshall Plan' style package of aid and investment for Palestine and the new Middle East."
Regarding the Palestinian refugee issue, ATFP has issued the following Statement of Principles:
The objective of ATFP is the establishment of a Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel, and an end of the Israeli occupation that began in 1967. ATFP is opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, but is not opposed to the state of Israel in its internationally recognized borders.
- A resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue can only come about through direct negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian officials as an expression of their national policies. No other parties are entitled to negotiate on this issue. However, individuals and organizations are free to express their opinions on this issue in the spirit of free, open and respectful debate.
- There are many parties responsible for the suffering of the Palestinian refugees. Responsible parties include first Israel for displacing the Palestinian refugees, refusing their return and confiscating their property without compensation. Some Arab states also bear varying degrees of responsibility; some for allowing generations of refugees to languish in camps under miserable conditions, or by placing various restrictions in terms of their legal status, employment and travel rights, and others for not having done enough to ease the suffering of refugees. Finally, the Palestinian leadership has been at fault for not communicating honestly and openly with the refugees on what they can expect for their future.
- The right of return is an integral part of international humanitarian law, and cannot be renounced by any parties. There is no Palestinian constituency of consequence that would agree to the renunciation of this right. There is also no Jewish constituency of consequence in Israel that would accept the return of millions of Palestinian refugees.
- Although the right of return cannot be renounced, it should not stand in the way of the only identifiable peaceful prospect for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: a resolution based on a state of Israel living side-by-side with a Palestinian state in the occupied territories with its capital in East Jerusalem. Implementation of the right of return cannot obviate the logic of a resolution based on two states. The challenge for the Israeli and Palestinian national leaderships is to arrive at a formula that recognizes refugee rights but which does not contradict the basis of a two-state solution and an end to the conflict.
- As part of any comprehensive settlement ending the conflict, Israel should accept its moral responsibility to apologize to the Palestinian people for the creation of the refugee problem. Palestinians should accept that this acknowledgment of responsibility does not undermine the legitimacy of the present-day Israeli state.
Or, as the dovish Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz put it on May 27th: "without acknowledging the Jewish character of the State of Israel, there is not even a basis for dialogue." And, we might add, the same is true if we fail to acknowledge the plight of the Palestinian refugees and their entitlement to redress.
Diarist’s tags: American Task Force on Palestine, Americans for Peace Now, Israel, Palestine, Peace, Clinton Peace Parameters