"Fighting for an Acceptable Peace"

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Posted by Esarhaddon from dsc15-lai-ca-2-56.rasserver.net ( on Monday, June 30, 2003 at 0:32AM :

June 30, 2003:

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"Fighting for an Acceptable Peace"
Drafted by Erich Marquardt on June 30, 2003

It's hard to imagine the early Zionists ever predicting the state of current
day Israel. More than 50 years after the creation of the Jewish state,
Israel has not managed to pacify the demands of the region's local
inhabitants: the Palestinians. Furthermore, Israel's controversial
occupation of lands taken during the Six Days War in 1967 -- even though
much of it was returned -- greatly compounded this principle problem. So
today the state of Israel finds itself controlling more land than originally
expected -- land whose residents consider themselves oppressed by the
Israeli government. Yet instead of relinquishing its control over both the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Israel continues to rule these annexed areas
of its land with absolute authority.

The population of Israel is not inclined to allow the creation of a
Palestinian state directly on its borders. With armed Palestinian
organizations, angered at the occupation, constantly attacking the Israeli
military and civilians, Israelis fear that the creation of a Palestinian
state will be akin to helping their enemies destroy them. In addition, there
are also members of Israeli society who have no intention of ever
relinquishing the West Bank and Gaza Strip to Palestinian control, dreaming
of creating a much larger, powerful state that includes these areas. This
outlook is best summarized by Moshe Dayan, Israel's Minister of Defense
during and after the 1967 war, who stated in September of 1967, "…we must
understand the motives and causes for the continued emigration of the Arabs,
from both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and not undermine these causes,
even if they are lack of security and lack of employment, because after all,
we want to create a new map." It is for these reasons that successive
Israeli governments have not given up their occupation of the West Bank and
Gaza Strip; and it is for these reasons that Palestinians continue to fight
against unwanted Israeli rule, using all means of resistance possible,
including targeting and killing innocent Israeli civilians.

In 1948, when Israel achieved its independence, it was clear that the
success of the country depended on its willingness to placate the local
population that it was displacing. The surrounding countries in the Middle
East quickly realized that their regional power would be greatly diminished
from the creation of a Western subsidized and extremely powerful new state.
This new power imbalance led to a series of military conflicts in which
Israel consistently emerged the victor. However, after the 1967 war, Israel
found itself occupying vast new lands: the West Bank to the east, the Golan
Heights to the northeast, and the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula to the west
and southwest; indeed, for some in the government, such as Dayan and his
supporters, these land grabs were the main reason for deciding to go to war
with the surrounding Arab states to begin with.

After taking control of both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the population
under Israel's control was greatly multiplied; indeed, Israel became the
country with the largest Palestinian population. According to renowned
Israeli historian Benny Morris, before the 1967 war, 400,000 Palestinians
lived within Israel's pre-1967 borders. After the war, Israel found itself
ruling over 1.1 million more Palestinians. Furthermore, the Palestinians in
the West Bank and Gaza Strip were extremely resistant to the notion of being
under Israel's control, and it is this essentially simple relationship born
decades ago that is the foundational cause of the conflict that exists
unchanged to this day. Over time, much of Israeli society has come to the
conclusion that it will be unable to rule over the Occupied Territories as
long as Palestinians are the majority population there. This realization has
led to a divided opinion in Israel on how to proceed.

Most of Israeli society believes that the Occupied Territories need to be
given up to the Palestinians. According to the Ma'ariv-Gal Hehadash poll
published in the Ma'ariv daily newspaper in May, fifty-seven percent of
Israelis support establishing a temporary Palestinian state in the Occupied
Territories; in addition, fifty-nine percent support a freeze on the
creation of Israeli settlements in these territories. This support is
founded on the hope that once the territories are no longer occupied, that
Palestinians will cease to take up arms against Israel and its populace, at
least not to the same degree as is occurring now. While this view is the
accepted one in Israel, there are still the continuing disagreements on what
exactly this state should look like. Many in Israel fear that if the
Palestinians are allowed their own state, completely free from Israeli
influence, that they will quickly create a modern day military, capable of
wreaking havoc on Israel. Therefore, in successive peace offers, the Israeli
government has only offered to allow a weak Palestinian state, dependent on
the state of Israel.

This proposed future is strongly rejected by Palestinian society, which is
why peace has not been achieved since the major peace talks began in the
early 1990s. While majorities on both sides recognize that a Palestinian
state will ultimately become a reality, they have still not found an
acceptable peace to agree on. Furthermore, due to the continued duration of
the occupation, Palestinian resistance groups are becoming more and more
violent, while also garnering more and more support from the Palestinian
people: a powerful combination the Israeli leadership can ill afford. While
both sides continue to suffer now more than in the past, it is the Israelis
that will have further to fall; the Palestinians have been living in
terrible conditions for years, and have now hit close to bottom. Their
continued squalor only gives rise to more militants and support for militant
organizations such as Hamas, which arguably has more power and credibility
amongst Palestinians than the Palestinian Authority.

This debilitating situation will fester as long as the dismal conditions
that have become a feature of the occupation remain the same or deteriorate
further. If Israel wants to create a lasting peace, they will have to end
the occupation either by allowing the creation of a truly independent
Palestinian state, or extending the same benefits to Palestinians in the
Occupied Territories as are applied to Israeli citizens now. If one of these
two options is not chosen, then the current level of violence in Israel and
the Territories will continue, if not increase.

The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) is an analysis-based publication
that seeks to, as objectively as possible, provide insight into various
conflicts, regions and points of interest around the globe. PINR approaches
a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral
judgments to the reader. PINR seeks to inform rather than persuade. This
report may not be reproduced, reprinted or broadcast without the written
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-- Esarhaddon
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