Saturday, October 15, 2011

Direct negotiations are VITAL to peace

Ari Alexenberg, the director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New Hampshire, in Sea Coast Online:
Abbas coming to the U.N. for acceptance of a Palestinian state without acknowledging Israel as a Jewish state is ironic. For it was the United Nations' Resolution 181 in 1947 that recommended British mandated Palestine to become two states, a "Jewish state" and an "Arab state."
It is worthy to note that Resolution 181 called for an "Arab state" not a Palestinian state. The reason for this is that the notion of a Palestinian people didn't exist. A search on Google books (a database of millions of books going back hundreds of years) on the subject of "Palestinians" before 1948 will return no results.
Yet, Netanyahu, in his speech to the U.N. explicitly stated he will accept a state for the Palestinian people alongside Israel. The Israelis have shown a remarkable willingness to compromise, agreeing to cede land that is the heart of Jewish civilization dating back thousands of years, for the sake of peace. Giving the Palestinians statehood without their acceptance of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people portends the continuation of the conflict, not the end.
Israel wants peace! It does not want to rule over another people and it does not want to send their children into battle. But just like any other nation on Earth, they must know their neighbors are not sworn to their destruction. In his speech, President Obama articulated Israel's need for security by saying, "Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel's citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel's children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them."
If the Palestinians have a state, its borders will run beside the heart of Israel's population center, a mere primitive rocket launch away from Tel Aviv or Israel's only major airport. How can the Palestinians be granted statehood when approximately 40 percent of its population is ruled by Iranian backed Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist group. Netanyahu made this clear in his speech when he said "Israelis are prepared to have a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but we're not prepared to have another Gaza there."
Peace is not a unilateral decision, it is a partnership. There are difficult issues that need to be negotiated. Borders, status of Jerusalem, settlements, Palestinian right of return, security arrangements and many more. A unilateral declaration of statehood doesn't address or solve the real issues on the ground. As President Obama iterated, "peace is hard, peace is hard." Netanyahu is willing to sit down without preconditions to do the hard work of negotiating peace. Abbas' unilateral declaration avoids doing the work necessary to bring a Palestinian state to fruition. It is a shallow exercise that will yield nothing on the ground for the Palestinians. It will only serve to isolate Israel and embarrass the United States by potentially forcing it to veto a Security Council resolution. The Palestinians need a leader whose vision for creating a democratic Palestinian state is greater than his aversion to accepting a democratic Jewish state.

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