Wendy Kalman
There are many ways to see and understand

The paths to peace

Photo by hrikken, courtesy of morguefile.com

Recently, I’ve seen a number of suggestions for how both sides could end the current situation. Each of these paths to peaceful coexistence offers milestones along the way.  While some may use an incremental plan in order to build trust, I do believe for anything to work, each side needs to want to prove to the other side that it will be a good neighbor. For this to happen, both sides actually have to want to get there, something a bit doubtful these days. Still, let us take a look at these different paths.

Fathom Journal’s interview with Asher Susser, author, showcases his approach. “For the Israelis, the point of departure was the territories in 1967 … the Palestinian point of reference was 1948,” quoted the interviewer from Susser’s book, Israel, Jordan and Palestine: The Two-State Imperative. This is a way of framing the essence of the conflict that I’ve never seen before. Very smart, thought-provoking. Offering a different lens through which to see the conflict, it also advocates a unilateral approach to resolving the situation.

Fellow TOI blogger and the Gatestone Institute’s Fred Maroun has devoted much thought to the topic lately, taking into consideration the complexities and needs of both sides. In It is time for Israel to end the occupation, he lays out a six stage approach. As opposed to a negotiated plan, this would be unilaterally initiated by Israel, until the fifth stage, in which an actual agreement would be negotiated. On the whole, advancing from one to the next would require trust-building criteria be met.

For those who stopped reading at the word “occupation,” find another word to use to describe the untenable status quo and substitute it. The topic is too important to be pushed aside because of word choice.

Fred followed this up with several blogs which deftly tackled different aspects. Supporting Israel means supporting a Palestinian state which offers a rationale to move forward, The Palestinian refugee problem can be solved, which offers a discussion, and Doing nothing to end the occupation is a deliberate political choice, which recaps a number of different plans that military-related and other groups have suggested.

His perspective, as a Lebanese Canadian who appreciates both the Jewish people’s connection to the land and the need for the Palestinians to have a place to call home, is one I appreciate. The same can be said for the proposal that recently came from Professor Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi, whom I wrote about after he was interviewed with author Yossi Klein Halevi about his response to Klein Halevi’s book, Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor.

The Palestinian academic, who is also an adjunct fellow at The Washington Institute, founded the Wasatia movement of moderate Islam. He offers his own well-thought out proposal for achieving peace. It too, takes into consideration the needs of both parties and covers everything from refugees to education to borders to Jerusalem.

I read about an alternative suggestion some time ago, a “one-and-a-half-state” confederation. I thought this idea has merit but like, the others, it is all a pipe dream. Until the Palestinians resolve the rift between Fatah and Hamas, until they have one voice representing them, how can much of anything proceed?

And of course, there is still the yet-to-be-released United States peace proposal that the Palestinians overwhelmingly do not want to consider (which I find inexcusable; if nothing else, it should be viewed as a way to get back to the negotiating table, as I noted in my blog, Bahrain and then what?).

Even if the path to the table were to be made clear, who would sit at it?

A poll in late June-early July from the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research does not indicate that either party has overwhelming support from the public. “If new legislative elections were held today with the participation of all factions, 67% say they would participate in such elections. Of those who would participate, 30% say they would vote for Hamas and 39% say they would vote for Fatah, 10% would vote for all other third parties combined, and 21% are undecided. Three months ago, vote for Hamas stood at 32% and Fatah at 39%. Vote for Hamas in the Gaza Strip stands today at 38%…and for Fatah at 33%….In the West Bank, vote for Hamas stands at 25%…and Fatah at 43%…”. With the new president, Mohammad Shtayyeh, not yet earning public confidence, a majority of the public wanting Abbas to resign as Prime Minister, and Fatah and Hamas not reconciled, no one voice can represent the Palestinian people.

On the Israeli side, 32 parties registered to run in next month’s elections, down from 47 last time. Politics, what I’ve always called Israel’s national pastime, is as full of drama now as ever. But while they’re focusing on how to form a governing coalition given the estimated seats each party may win I am seeing a focus on the religious/secular battle for control. What I am not seeing is talk of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. While pessimistic of a two-state solution happening under current circumstances, how can citizens not want a resolution to the current quagmire the country is stuck in?

The way out exists. The question is who can take the two sides from where they are stuck to a path towards peace?

About the Author
Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Wendy lived in Jerusalem for over a decade submerged in Israeli culture. Since returning to the U.S. in 2003; she has been soaked in Southern life in metro Atlanta. An Ashkenazi mom to Mizrahi sons born in Israel and the US, MIL to a DIL born in France and a step mom to sons born in the South, she celebrates trying to see from multiple perspectives and hope this comes out in her blogs. Wendy recently completed two master's degrees in public administration and integrated goblal communication, while also splitting her time between her research position at the Center for Israel Education, taking a grad school class on conflict management, digging deep into genealogy while bringing distant family together and spending too much time on Facebook. All of this is to say, Wendy's life has brought her to the widened framemwork she uses for her blogs: there are many ways to see and understand.
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