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Solving Israel Palestinian Conflict in 2009
Publication date: 2009-01-27

Can George Mitchell and Obama Succeed, and How?

The central issues faced by the new US administration: the US economy, the US security, the security of the State of Israel, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the relationships with Iran, can be all traced to one single epicentre — the Israeli‐Palestinian conflict.

It is this conflict that is the main source of hatred towards the US in the Arab and Muslim world. And it is this hatred that had lead to the events of the 9/11. And it was the 9/11 that has lead to increased demands on security at home and abroad, to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to the hardening of the relationships with Iran. And the vast costs of the increased security, of the wars, and of maintaining the security of Israel have contributed to (if not triggered) the present economic crisis. And all the efforts by the International Community aimed at resolving this conflict undertaken so far have lead only to its exacerbation.

President Obama understands that and he has appointed George Mitchell as US Middle East Envoy. And George Mitchell believes that any conflict can be resolved by an agreement.

Can George Mitchell succeed where all his predecessors failed?

There are two distinct problems for George Mitchell to solve: (1) Gaza ceasefire, and (2) permanent peace.

In principle both the parties want a ceasefire — both of them have declared their own ceasefires.

There are, however, problems on both the sides with making their ceasefires last.

Hamas's condition for a long term ceasefire is lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

The Israeli conditions for lifting the blockade is prevention of Hamas from importing weapons and munitions.

There is a possibility for a temporary agreement (say 6 months) for Hamas agreeing not to import weapons and munitions, on condition that the Israelis do the same. Such agreement can be guaranteed by Egyptian (or UN) supervision.

So, a temporary ceasefire can be agreed.

But can a permanent peace be agreed between FATAH/Hamas and the Israeli Government?

The reason that permanent peace cannot be agreed between these parties is that these parties are not the real parties to the conflict. They are all products of it, because the conflict existed before either of the parties (the Israeli Government, FATAH, and Hamas) came into existence. And all of them came into existence as a result of the conflict.

To understand why this is the case one needs to answer the question: “What is the cause of the conflict removing which the conflict can be resolved?”

Those who sympathize with the Palestinians often call for “cessation of the occupation”. And many outsiders believe it to be the occupation of Gaza and of the West Bank. And they do not understand why Hamas is talking about “cessation of the occupation” and “liberation”. “Have not the Israelis already withdrawn from Gaza?”, they say.

But both Gaza and the West Bank are not what the conflict is about. They are the products of previous failed attempts to resolve it.

Before 1967, there was no “occupation” of either Gaza or of the West Bank. Gaza was part of Egypt, and the West Bank part of Jordan, and the conflict still existed, and the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) lead by Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian groups were fighting “against the occupation” and “for liberation of Palestine”.

Which Palestine? Occupied by whom? Who were those people who joined these organizations?

The people who joined these organizations were Palestinians who were expelled by the Jews from their land and houses in cities, towns and villages which were taken over by the Jews and became part of the State of Israel.

So, this is “the occupation” that Hamas and other organizations are talking about today, and it is this Palestine that they want to liberate from the Israelis. And this is why they do not recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel. The pre‐1967 Israel contains parcels of land which belong to the Palestinian Arabs, who became refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon and elsewhere around the world.

But why did the Jews expel those Arabs from their land in 1948?

Because they wanted to have a Jewish State in Palestine, and the International Community (the US and the European Powers) had agreed to recognize this state.

Some Arabs happened to be in the way of this Jewish State, so they were forcibly driven out from the places where they lived to make way for Israeli settlements.

It is the struggle of those expelled Arabs for return to their land that came to be known as the Middle East Conflict.

It is not uncommon for people to want to acquire other people's property. And there is nothing wrong in that. But the only honest and legal way of acquiring other people's property is to buy it.

Buying property does not cause conflict, taking it by force does.

And, if a land had been taken by force, then such conflict can be resolved either by returning the property or by paying for the property and by paying for any damages caused by such act.

The Israeli Government is against allowing the Palestinian refugees to return to the places from where they had been expelled as this would turn the Jewish State of Israel (granted to the Jews by the International Community) into a mixed state — not “a national home for the Jewish People” as the Balfour Declaration (1917) promised to them. And due to the changes that had taken place such return, even if accepted by the Jews, would create many operational problems and in practice instead of resolving the conflict would create another humanitarian catastrophe.

This rules out the Return and leaves only one legal and honest option — monetary compensation, combined with an alternative citizenship and re‐settlement.

But, instead of adopting such honest legal solution, the International Community (which in practice was mostly the USA), had taken the side of Israel by giving it diplomatic, financial and military support, so that they keep the Palestinian land and keep seizing more land for their settlements.

So, the parties to the conflict are not the Israeli Government, FATAH and Hamas, but the Palestinians (as private individuals) who had been expelled from their land and the US government who had ensured that they would not be able to recover their land, but that it would be in Israeli ownership. And neither FATAH nor Hamas have legal or moral right to negotiate away the property rights of the Palestinians by any agreements with the Israeli government or anybody else. So, it is useless to seek to force FATAH or Hamas to sign away private property which they do not own. Only the private individual property owners have the legal right to their property, and only they or their successors can dispose of that right.

So, to permanently resolve this conflict George Mitchell should talk to the US government and explain to them that to solve this conflict the US should convert the unlawful seizure of land into a lawful purchase, and, as the issue also involved the issue of citizenship, that full US citizenship be granted to the Palestinians in addition to the monetary compensation for loss of the property and any damage sustained as a result.

This is the only honest, just and workable solution and it is in the interest of all the parties concerned.

The other proposed solutions (1) a two‐state, (2) one mixed state, (3) limited genocide (killing all the extremists) cannot provide a permanent solution to this conflict.

The two‐state solution (based on the 1967 borders, and divided Jerusalem), the one most favoured by the International Community, is unworkable for the following reasons:

  1. There is a deeply rooted and widespread grass‐root opposition to such solution within both the camps.

  2. The desire of the Jews to re‐create their ancient state of Israel in all of Palestine and to rebuild the Third House (Temple) goes back to the Biblical times and is deeply rooted in the Jewish religion and culture. Until this goal is achieved there will be always a pressure to achieve this by violent means, if no peaceful means are available.

  3. In the period from 1967 to the present time there has been expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Removal of these settlements will be met with strong opposition among the Israelis. If such removal is effected, it will be further stimulus to violence in addition to point (2) above.

  4. Restoring the position to the pre‐1967 state will not resolve the conflict, because it will not satisfy the Palestinian desire to return to the land and houses from which they were expelled at the time of the creation of the State of Israel. (The Refugee Issue). And the Israelis will not accept such return, because it threatens to destroy the predominantly Jewish character of the State of Israel.

  5. And even if such solution had been imposed on the parties by an external force, given the strong hostility between the two sides generated by the conflict itself (like the recent Israeli strike at Gaza), there will remain a very unstable situation, where a minor incident can flair up into mass violence at any moment.

The one‐state solution (a single bi‐national mixed state) is opposed by many Israelis, as it would destroy their dream of a predominantly Jewish state.

And even if such solution had been imposed on the parties by an external force, given the strong hostility between the two sides generated by the conflict itself (like the recent Israeli strike at Gaza), there will remain a very unstable situation, where a minor incident can flair up into mass violence at any moment.

Example of such violence were recent inter‐communal clashes between Israeli Arabs and Jews in Akko (a coastal town in pre‐1967 Israel).

Limited genocide (that is “killing all the terrorists”) is a presently fashionable in Israel doctrine, which has logically developed from the War on Terror ideology. Its application has been demonstrated by the latest Israeli assault on Gaza. They killed over 1000 people. This has not resolved the conflict.

By contrast a purely Jewish State of Israel extended to Gaza and the West Bank, with the Palestinians being re‐settled in the USA and given a generous monetary compensation will work for the following reasons:

  1. It achieves all the aspirations of the Jews.
  2. It redresses the injustices caused to the Palestinians, which are the original cause of this conflict.
  3. It physically separates the 2 sides (by the Atlantic Ocean), thus removing possibility of conflicts due to minor incidents flaring up into major violence.
  4. This plan is financially feasible, would allow the US to substantially reduce its military and security budget, and will open way to removal of other causes of conflicts around the world.

Such plan was presented by us to President Bush in 2005, on which he had chosen not to act.

The following documents describe this plan and the issues involved in further details:

  1. The Middle East Settlement 2005
  2. The New Bush‐Blair Plan for the Middle East
  3. The Legal Status of the Displaced Palestinians
  4. Who is to Blame for the Gaza Violence?
  5. The Language of Hamas
  6. Gaza Protests, Reactions, Solution
  7. How to Stop Terrorism

The proposed solution is an example of non‐political method of resolution of global disputes. It is based on justice, rather than violence, intimidation and deception which underlie political methods of resolving disputes.

The Presidency of G.W. Bush has clearly demonstrated that attempts to govern the world by violence, intimidation and deception does not resolve conflicts, but creates new ones. The Middle East Conflict offers President Obama an opportunity to try out a different approach — government by Truth, Honesty and Justice.

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