Posted 11 June 2003 - 10:51 PM
The problem, IMHO, is that you have two peoples in one small space, who both have a legitimate claim to the same land. The various solutions as I see them are:
Indeed. This claim has been settled through military combat in at least a half-dozen wars since the founding of Israel. Many in Israel believe the "peace process" is an attempt to disarm them through words when the military force of their neighbors has failed repeatedly. Until their enemies cease boasting that they will drive every Jew into the sea, this is a well-founded belief.
1: Two-state solution. The currently favored model, which leaves neither party entirely happy and doesn't settle thorny issues like Israeli settlements on the West Bank, the status of Jerusalem, and what happens to the Palestinians (and their descendants) who were expelled from homes within Israel's 1948 borders.
In order to sign the peace with Egypt, Israel removed all settlements in the Sinai. I don't see why they couldn't do the same with the Palestinians.
2: Bi-national state. That means make Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza one big state, with everyone inside of it equal under the law. But given the demographics of the Israelis and Palestinians, this has the effect of making the country no longer a majority Jewish state within a generation.
That is sort of what they already have, there are Arab representives in the Knesset, who represent the Palestinians who didn't leave. If you'll recall, when Israel was founded, it was attacked on all sides by the arab neighboring countries. The arabs broadcast on every radio for the Palestinians to evacuate their land. Once the hated Jews had been exterminated, the Palestinians could move back in. Those Palestinians who are refugees chose to leave on the hope of the Jews being massacred. When that didn't happen, they were left out in the cold. But there are hundreds of thousands of arabs who chose to stay, and are Israeli citizens to this day. The "refugees" got precisely what they deserved, nothing. Now their descendants still have no home, 50 years later. Great plan!
3: Population transfer. This means expelling large numbers of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, and probably some Israeli Arabs as well. This solves the problem of Israel governing a large, hostile population of Arabs, but, well...we called this ethnic cleansing when Milosevic did it in Kosovo and bombed him for it.
It would also embolden their arab neighbors to use WMDs against Israel. The Israelis know this, that's why they haven't driven out every arab from their territory. They have to live with their neighbors.
4: The status quo. Muddling through with Israel occupying 3.5-4 million hostile and angry Arabs and trying to defend 200,000 Jews, some of them with extreme political and religious Jews, in tiny outposts spread across the occupied territories. This probably means more of the same.
I'm in favor of the status quo. Until the Palestinians demonstrate they are capable of democratic self-government (an impossibility given their educational system), this is how it will remain.
So what's the solution? Damned if I know, but the status quo will probably continue to be bloody. Wars like this tend to be really nasty, and only end when one side is wiped out or definitively conquered (the American Indians, the Maoris), the other side decides to pack it in (the French in Algeria, the Dutch in Batavia), or in a few happy instances, the two sides reach an accomodation (the Chinese and native Malays in Malaysia, the whites, blacks, and coloreds in South Africa, the Indians and Fijians in Fiji ).
In an all-out war, the Palestinians would lose as surely as they have lost for the past 50 years of wars, even with the assistance of their arab neighbors. That's why it is in their self-interest, not so much Israel's, to seek out a lasting peace. Apparently, the Palestinians have not had sufficient incentive to return to the peace table. Fine. With the removal of their financial benefactor Saddam Hussein, we can wait. Can the Palestinians?