The War in Gaza dominates
the news. Wounds that have festered for almost a century are open and bleeding
once again. The history of this epic confrontation is too tortured to engrave in
these few lines of print but there seems now a consensus thata peaceful resolution requires a second state
in that little area, Israel the one and Palestine the other side by side. But how to get there?Hatred seethes in the bitter divisions of these Semitic neighbors and
currently Israel, trying to fend off small but continuing barrages of rockets
that threaten its central airport has put a tourniquet around the jugular veins
of the benighted city of Gaza while the army is draining its blood..
After World War 1 the League of
Nations awarded Britain a mandate
over the land of Palestine with the
intention of creating a home for the Jewish people. The British ruled until the
end of World War 2, when the United Nations decided to partition Palestine and
nominally create two states, one for the Palestinians and the other for the
Jews. In 1948 Israel became a
state after a bloody confrontation with the Palestinians and neighboring Arab
countries. Resentful Palestinians formed the PLO (Palestine Liberation
Organization) headed by Yasser Arafat and his political party Al Fatah. After
his death and more blood shed, Arafat’s party, Al Fatah continued to rule. However. Democratic elections for parliament in 2005 awarded
a majority of seats to Hamas, a splinter group dedicated to the eradication of Israel. Because
the Gazan occupation proved to be a thorn Israel pulled out
2005 and turned Gaza over to
the Palestinians. Hamas purged Al Fatah from the region and started lobbing
rockets into Israel. Israel then launched
the current attack hoping to once and for all to destroy Hamas.
Negotiations between the miniature titans have been
on and off since the State of Israel was
formed. The Palestinians never had a State of their own, but led by the wily
Yasser Arafat were able to cobble together a semblance of government that
recently became divided between Arafat’s Al Fatah and Hamas, the group that in
2005 won a Parliamentary majorityin
elections that as far as anyone could tell, were democratically managed.
Because it refuses to recognize the legitimate
existence of Israel and vowed
to destroy the small country Hamas is deemed outlaw and a terrorist
organization by the international community. Ever since Hamas in an armed coup
purged Fatah from its GazaterritorythetheWest Bank, hoping to
become the State of Palestine is itself
The Israeli population is comprised ofsecular Jews,
ultra religious Orthodox Jews and Arabs both Muslim and Christian.Fanatic Orthodox Jews believe that the Jews
own all of Palestine including Judea and Samaria, (now
known as the West Bank) because God transferred Title to them
many years ago, a case that cannot be dealt with in a court of law.
Years ago, unable to come to terms with Yasser
Arafat, Ariel Sharon, war hero and former Prime Minister of Israel heeding the
pressures of fanatic God driven religious groups and for strategic regions,
built settlements on the West Bank that encroached on territory the
Palestinians considered their own. The Settlements for the most part were
populated by the ultra orthodox. The Settlements constitute a mini-occupation
of Palestinian property.
Of course all efforts aimed at making peace between Israel and the
Palestinians have been thwarted and the best that could be achieved were
periodic detents. Only in the recent past have the Israeli succumbed to the
reality that a “two state” solution would be inevitable. After the Intifada of
1999 and numerous suicide bombings by Arabs inside Israel, Ehud
Barak (currently Israeli Minister of Defense) built a wall around Israel that has
effectively thwarted suicide bombers, but done little to stop rockets from
flying into that little country.
Bob Simon, a well known commentator on the TV show
20/20 (Sundays at ) was
interviewed by Charlie Rose. He was duly pessimistic, and saw three
possibilities: status quo forever; a two state solution, remotely possible; and
apartheid, a condition in which the Palestinian would be second class
inhabitants of land they believed to be theirs.
The major sticking point to a 2 State Solution is the
Settlements that co-opt Palestinian land,and the ultra-orthodox Jewish Settlers
who can be violent and who may be armed. Former Prime Minister MenachemBeigen long ago
predicted that removing the Settlements would invite civil war in Israel. When Israel vacated Gaza in 2005
its army had a terrible time extracting the Settlers.
As things stand a 2 State Solution is the only decent
and viable choice, but what to do about the Settlers?I have as usual a simplistic prescription.
Were I Prime Minister of Israel faced with
this problem I would do the following. First explain to the Settlers that
Israeli policy is for a 2 state solution;that a 2 State solution cannot be achieved with Israelis occupying parts
of the West Bank; and lastly, I would ask the Settlers to vacate the
Settlements peacefully and come home to Israel.If they refused to do so, they would lose their Israeli Citizenship.
After that their fate would be decided between themselves and West Bank
Palestinian Authorities. Were they to refuse to vacate the Settlements one of
several outcomes might be predicated.
Shunned by both sides the Settlers become a third
State in the region, at war perennially with the Palestinians for control of
Judea and Samaria; the Settlers could become citizens of Palestine; the
Settlers could join Hamas and Hezbollah to get rid of the secular State ofIsrael.
Goodness, it seems I haven’t solved anything