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02 2012

Injustice For All

Syndicated from: Steve Paikin

As we saw in the last blog post, the finish line for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement is actually staring all the parties in the face. It starts with Israelis having to give up their claims to historic lands such as Hebron and Jericho in what most of the world calls the West Bank and in what most Israelis call Judea and Samaria, or the “disputed territories.” Similarly, the Palestinians will have to give up their claims to land they previous controlled, such as the Tel Aviv suburb of Jaffa.  The Tel Aviv skyline, taken from Jaffa, a predominantly Arab part of the city.   Yossi Klein Halevi, the writer and fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, jokingly refers to this Mideast solution as “Injustice for All.” If there’s enough trust on both sides, even seemingly impossible issues such as the status of Jerusalem, the billion dollar fence/barrier/wall, or water rights could be resolved. But Klein Halevi says, even with that finish line in plain sight, there’s an overwhelming problem in figuring out how to get there. “No sane Israeli government will negotiate an agreement with Hamas,” he says.  “In which case, there is no possibility of a two-state solution.” Yossi Klein Halevi.   As far as the vast majority of Israelis are concerned, getting to the finish line is impossible at the moment because the Palestinians are too divided.  They see the Palestinian Authority (Fatah), led by Mahmoud Abbas, as a relatively reasonable partner for peace, situated as they are in Ramallah in the West Bank. But much of the world sees Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, as a terrorist organization, which has never given up its hopes of driving the Israelis into the sea. Ironically, Klein Halevi says while the Palestinians seem hopelessly divided (in spite of a recent potential rapprochement between the PA and Hamas), there’s an unprecedented consensus among Israeli Jews for action. A crowd gathers inside the Old City of Jerusalem for the "Jerusalem Lights the Night" show at the Tower of David.   He says 25% of Israelis are hard right “settlers,” who live in the West Bank and oppose any agreement. Similarly, 5-10% of Israelis are hard left, who would unilaterally withdraw from all the territories, believing Israel’s hanging on to them is doing incalculable damage to the Jewish state’s soul. That leaves about 2/3 of Israelis open to a different kind of solution.  Klein Halevi says this group believes the occupation is bad, but they also don’t see any safe way to end it.  They believe a Palestinian state is essential for Israel, but also fear that, if run by Hamas, it could represent an existential threat to Israel. The choice for Israel then becomes: reinvade a Palestinian state, or be unable to defend itself. “No other country in the world faces this choice,” Klein Halevi says. The hills of Lebanon, where Israel and Hezbollah fought a brutal month-long war in 2006.   Israel actually finds itself with a triple international challenge: 1. with the Palestinians 2. with its Arab neighbours   3. and with the broader Muslim world.  Yes, life is never dull in the Promised Land.  

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