Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Palestinians, Hamas, the US, etc.

Being Jewish and from the United States I am concerned about what transpires between the Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East.

For many Jews, there is a fear of the Palestinians directly related to the Holocaust. Taking the Palestinian cause seriously as a valid desire for independence is equated with the appeasement of Hitler by the U.S., Great Britain, France and other countries. The words of Hamas and of individual "radicals" are taken very seriously as threatening to destroy the State of Israel and kill as many Israeli Jews as possible.

The United States is hardly an "innocent bystander" in the Middle East! At various times the U.S. has directly or indirectly pushed Israel to pursue policies seen as congruent with U.S. foreign policy. The ties between the military and intelligence communities are common knowledge.

Israel is a strong military power. While it can not compete with the U.S. in such areas, its military power is far stronger than the combined powers of its perceived "enemies" in the Middle East. Despite the fears of many Israelis and Jews from other countries, Israel is in no danger of being destroyed unless a nuclear holocaust should occur.

Currently Israel is an important ally of the U.S. Currently Israel's bargaining power with the Palestinians is very strong. Israel has repeatedly avoided what I would call "serious negotiations" over a peace settlement. The proposed peace settlement which Arafat rejected would have divided the West Bank into slices of a country with Israeli control between them. A new country there could not have survived as a viable state. More importantly any Palestinian leadership which had approved such a settlement would have lost power to militants such as the current Hamas leadership.

It is risky to really seriously negotiate a peace settlement for Israel. There are no guarantees that radicals such as those in Hamas won't be "impossible" and create extreme problems that could result in the deaths of many people.

It is also risky to continue the status quo and to build physical barriers to isolate the Palestinians within walls as is being done. Eventually Israel will lose its strategic importance to the U.S. At that time Israel will have only its military and economic force as a bargaining chip.

Israel has Not proposed offering virtually all of the West Bank for a Palestinian state including the important water rights in the entire area. It appears to me that the status of Jerusalem and its immediate area can not be resolved in the short-term.

I believe that Israel could negotiate a two step peace process which basically allows a totally independent West Bank State to exist as the first step. It would be in the Palestinians best interests to make such a state work so that they could have some bargaining power related to the Jerusalem Area. Such an agreement would be risky for the Palestinians because there would be no guarantees that the second state of negotiations would work out.

Israel will continue to face a militant Hamas (or worse) until it honestly seeks a peace settlement. It is hard to negotiate with "militants". It is a natural result of failing to take negotiations seriously with the Palestinians - previously.

I hope that there will be peace! It will only happen when Israel takes risks and helps make it happen. I hope that Jews from outside Israel will gradually see more of these truths.



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