Is our world still capable of resolving the Israel-Palestine issues in a way that can bring peace with justice and dignity to all sides and all people?
If this world, after engaging with this issue for nearly a century, still cannot imagine and seriously attempt such a solution, then it is time to change this world.
After all, no one from Mars or Jupiter is going to come to solve our most prolonged problems. We on earth have to solve these ourselves.
So let us at least try to imagine what the people of Palestine and Israel need to say together with all sincerity—
- There must be a nation of Israel and a nation of Palestine which will mutually recognize the right of each other to exist and prosper in peace.
- They will live as good neighbors and cooperate for the well-being of each other.
- Both the countries should share basic resources like land and water in such a way as to ensure proper livelihoods to all people and meet their basic needs. As the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are barely adequate for the Palestinian people, Israel will withdraw its settlers from there and the elected government and people of Palestine will have full sovereign rights over their territory. This territory will have continuity without settlements, colonies or check posts of others intruding into it, or its people needing permission from guards or soldiers of any other country regarding where they can go and where they cannot within their country.
- Governments of both countries will sign accords of peace and give a firm commitment not to allow any terrorist or infiltrator activity against the other.
- All acts of violence and indignity against each other will be forgiven and a new beginning of peace and respect will be made.
- Both sides will be sincerely committed to solving all other contentious issues on the basis of peaceful negotiations in a spirit of give and take.
- Efforts to increase goodwill and cooperation will be made on continuing basis.
- All the present, on-going hostilities and aggressions must of course end immediately.
- All prisoners, hostages etc. of the other side will be released by both sides.
While something similar to this imagination may hold the best prospects for bringing peace and safety to all people of the deeply troubled region, at the same time such is the existing polarization that several people on both sides are likely to oppose any such proposal with cries that this is not just to their side. So there is no ambition here of satisfying all people. However there is hope that any solution that strives sincerely to bring peace with justice and dignity to all people will ultimately be acceptable to most of them.
What is troubling is that there are extreme elements on both sides that do not appear to really want peace. In fact at times it appears that the activities of extreme wings of both sides are supporting each other, leading the region from one cycle of violence to another. Why did some violent attacks increase around the time of the Oslo Accords? Who was behind the murder of Prime Minister Rabin when he was sincerely pushing the peace process? What role did Prime Minister Netanyahu (in a previous tenure) have in supporting Hamas in its initial phase? How long did these contacts last? To what extent was the corruption of leading players on both sides responsible for the authorities on both sides avoiding genuine democracy, transparency and peace? To what extent the corrupt and autocratic forces on both sides have been interested in prolonging of conflict situations? To what extent forces of imperialism want Israel to remain basically a heavily armed force of aggression, always available to be on their side in the Middle-East region? If and when these questions are ever answered satisfactorily, these will tell us a lot about why it has been so difficult to get any peaceful solutions so far.
Anyway we have to leave all this behind in the present difficult situation to focus on the most important objective of bringing peace. Now if one goes to all the history with each side’s maximalist interpretation of history (and even mythology mixed with history!) to favor themselves, then solutions will be very difficult. So without ignoring history, it may be more reasonable just now to look forward and move on with those solutions which can be acceptable to all those people who are sensitive to concerns of peace and justice and who care for the well-being and dignity of all people. It is the mobilization of such people on both sides on an agenda of peace and justice that will make possible solutions based on peace, justice, dignity and well-being of all people.
Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Protecting Earth for Children, Planet in Peril, Earth without Borders and A day in 2071.