Wednesday, October 21, 2009 v3.2

Home Sweet Home, Part 2
©2009 David Talbot

Last week I finished Part 1 with the following: Can somebody explain why 20% of Israel’s citizens (Arabs) can live in peace in Israel, and less than 10% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem citizens can’t do the same under Palestinian rule?

Part 2
In a recent Wall Street Journal Opinion piece[1], R. James Woolsey, a former director of Central Intelligence under President Clinton, posed this very question to Salam Fayyad, acting Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. His answer was surprising and provides the framework for a complete change in focus of the Arab-Israeli conflict over Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

For the first time in the history of the conflict, an acting Palestinian Prime Minister indicated , "I'm not someone who will say that they would or should be treated differently than Israeli Arabs are treated in Israel….[2]” This idea of Jews and Arabs living together only exists today in Israel and a few countries where a very small population of Jews live in tenuous peace with their neighbors.

The shift, if it matures into law in the West Bank, would establish a new paradigm in the “settlement” negotiations. Under a Palestinian State, the West Bank would transfer from Israeli to Palestinian authority. And, Jewish Settlements would now make up about 10% of the total population in Palestine.

The fighting between Israel and the P.A. about settlements would disappear. U.S. pressure on Israel would cease, and the only question would be the security of both Palestinians and Jews living together, just as they do now in Israel.

This solution would take a lot of soul searching on both sides. Israel would give up disputed territory, but not dismantle settlements. Palestinians would amend sections of their charter providing civil rights to all citizens, including property rights, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

This solution could also ease tensions with other neighbors in the region, namely Jordan and Egypt. These are countries have benefited from a political relationship with Israel, but face internal pressures from communities and religious groups to support the Palestinians.

My opinion… could work. But given the atmosphere all over the Middle East, it would take a miracle. But, it is the Holy Land……

[1] Opinion, Wall Street Journal Online, October 11, 2009
[2] Ibid

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