Saturday, February 6

Recognizing Israel's Right to Exist

nakba woman jug 1948
nakba woman jug 1948 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The last few articles written on this blog were devoted to the feasibility of ending the occupation as well as a possible scenario that could occur if Israel would end the occupation and withdraw from territories occupied in the Six Day June 1967 War. It is really a vicious circle and we always seem to return to the same problem. The problem of the inability of the Arab States to recognize Israel's right to exist is an engraved mantra going back over 100 years. It is NOT the occupation since the Six Day June War of 1967. As mentioned in previous articles, wars were fought prior to the Six Day War. History has illustrated this. The occupation is a result of a Israel's strike against Egypt as Egypt had closed the Tiran Straits to Israel's shipping after ordering the UN to remove its UNICEF from there.  Jordan and Syria joined Egypt in an attempt to destroy Israel. Israel could not afford to lose this war. Had Israel lost, it would cease to exist.

If we go back before the establishment of Israel in 1948, we notice that the Arabs were consistent in a rejectionist attitude towards the establishment of a Jewish state in their midst. When Israel was established on 14 May 1948, the Arabs referred to it as Al Naqba - the Catastrophe, and since then wars were fought against Israel in an attempt to destroy the Jewish State.

The history of the Arab-Israeli conflict reveals 24 major junctures when compromise was offered since the 1920s, dating from pre-state, League of Nations Mandate to the present time.
 Plan after plan, including patently pro-Arab proposals, were put on the table. Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, 15 agreements and memorandums have been signed. 

If we examine the history of this conflict, it is not difficult to realize that the conflict did not begin with the occupation of 1967 but many years before Israel's establishment. The emphasis on the occupation being the cause of the conflict is simply because of political interests and the desire to delegitimize Israel. This does not mean that the "occupation" is justified if it allows Jewish settlements. After all, it is disputed territory. Establishing settlements simply weakens Israel's case in that it turns Israel into an occupying and colonizing power on the ground, ruling a people that are hostile.

Today with the uncompromising attitude of Hamas, the duplicity of the PA, and the radical changes in the Arab environment around Israel, including Daesh (ISIS) and various other Islamist terror groups, creates great instability. This is not conducive to solving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Peace negotiations between the two sides are moribund. 

It is obvious, despite the very bleak situation that a solution to this conflict lies in negotiations between the warring parties. Hamas has closed the doors to that and the PA has no authority to jump start negotiations without Hamas support, which will just not happen under the present environment.

Maybe there is another way of facilitating the initiation of negotiations. A hint of this could perhaps come from the Joint List in the Knesset. They are in an ideal position to be mediators or facilitators. These Knesset members speak Arabic and Hebrew fluently. They support the Two-State Solution, interact with Israelis and understand the Palestinian position. They also do have Palestinian support in the West Bank. This mediation position that they could take stands a greater chance of success towards solving the conflict than if a third country, ignorant of the Palestinian and Israeli psyche, would ever have. Giving the Joint List more responsibility in peace negotiations has never been tried and perhaps there is a possibility that they can really play a positive role. 

The Joint List is composed of an alliance of BaladHadashTa'al and the United Arab List (the southern branch of the Islamic Movement). Balad is the most radical partner in this list. Three MK's from this list, Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas, visited the parents of the terrorists, who stabbed and killed innocent Israelis, to sympathies with them and stood in silence as a mark of respect for these "shuhada (martyrs)". The excuse was to negotiate the return of their corpses for burial in the territories. When interviewed over TV Arutz 2, Jamal Zahalka, said that he viewed the stabbings and killings of innocent people whether Jewish or Palestinian as "Victims of the Occupation". (This interview is in Hebrew) He did express his disapproval of murdering innocent people for what it is worth. One may argue as to what the occupation is - whether it is the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 as appears in the Hamas Charter or the territories occupied in June 1967 War. The Joint List does support the Two-State Solution, so it does recognize Israel's right to exist. 

The avoidance by the Palestinian Leadership of critical issues over many years of dead-end negotiations is because they cannot come to terms with Israel's existence. It is perhaps on these issues that the Joint List has the potential of being a facilitator in future peace negotiations. The issues are so crucial for both Israelis and Palestinians and lack of vision for new ideas on both sides do not give much promise on making peace. The Joint List option could be a new direction that may produce positive results as they are not viewed as enemies of the Palestinian people in the PA-Hamas controlled areas. The Joint List, even though they are regarded with suspicion and the action of the three MK's mentioned was not productive, created further animosity as a really bad tactic that was unnecessary and achieved nothing. After the hype of this unfortunate meeting will blow over and the possibility of Joint List participation in bridging the wide gaps between the two sides can be given more serious consideration.

No comments: