Israeli Luminaries Press for a Palestinian State

Well, I’ve been rather busy as of late, so I haven’t had the time to post as much as I’d like (and believe me, I’ve had a lot I’ve been wanting to write about lately). Instead, I thought I’d share this interesting article from the New York Times, which has raised my spirits about the prospect of a resolution for this miserable and intractable conflict.

                                                                                               

By ETHAN BRONNER

Published: April 19, 2011

JERUSALEM — Dozens of Israel’s most honored intellectuals and artists have signed a declaration endorsing a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 borders and asserting that an end to Israel’s occupation “will liberate the two peoples and open the way to a lasting peace.”

The signers plan to announce their position on Thursday from the same spot in Tel Aviv where the Jewish state declared its independence in the spring of 1948. The page-long declaration is expected to be read there by Hanna Maron, one of the country’s best-known actresses and a winner of the Israel Prize, the country’s most prestigious award, which is granted yearly on Independence Day.

Of the more than 60 who had signed the declaration by Tuesday, about 20 were winners of the Israel Prize and a number of others had been awarded the Emet Prize, given by the prime minister for excellence in science, art and culture. Signatures were still being collected on Tuesday.

“The land of Israel is the birthplace of the Jewish people where its identity was shaped,” the statement begins. “The land of Palestine is the birthplace of the Palestinian people where its identity was formed.” It goes on to say that now is the time to live up to the commitment expressed by Israel’s founders in their Declaration of Independence to “extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness.”

Yaron Ezrahi, a political theorist at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and one of the signers, said the group chose this week to issue its declaration because it was Passover, which marks the freedom of the Jewish people from slavery.

“We don’t want to pass over the Palestinian people,” Mr. Ezrahi said. “This is a holiday of freedom and independence.” He added that given the struggle for freedom across the Arab world today and the Palestinians’ plans to seek international recognition of their statehood by September, it was important for Israeli voices to be added to the call.

Two weeks ago, another group of several dozen prominent Israelis, many of them from the fields of security and business, issued what they called the Israeli Peace Initiative, a more detailed but somewhat similar plan for a two-state solution. Both groups say they are upset by their government’s policies in this regard, which they consider insufficient.

The Palestinian leadership says that unless Israel ends the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, it will not return to negotiations with it and will instead seek international recognition of Palestinian statehood by September at the United Nations.

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the real problem is that the Palestinians refuse to acknowledge that Israel is a Jewish state. Official recognition of that, it says, would revive negotiations, although there are also clear differences over land and Israel’s security needs.

Mr. Netanyahu is expected to announce by the end of May his proposal for moving forward with talks on a two-state solution.

                                                                                        

In the grand scheme of this complex issue, this effort may ultimately not amount to much; but the fact that Israel’s best and brightest are willing to go against the mold and stand for what’s right is a positive reminder that there are still decent, level-headed people on both sides. It reminds me of similar developments in Palestine, in which more Palestinians are going about things in a nonviolent way, led by a generation of tech and business savvy youths who are seeking to peacefully develop  Palestine as much as free it.

There have been many false positives before, and extremists in both lands remain disproportionately more influential and troublesome. But so long as a flicker of decency, integrity, and mutual respect remain, there is always a cause for hope. On that note, I must head to bed. I look forward to discussing this issue are greater length in the future. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

2 comments on “Israeli Luminaries Press for a Palestinian State

  1. I think this is the most logical solution to the Palestinian problem. There have to be two things. A Palestinian state based on 1967 borders and an end to outfits like Hamas refusing to accept Israels right to exist.

    The main reason Israeli’s fear to allow a Palestine based on 1967 borders is their bitter experience after their pull out from Gaza. They pulled out from Gaza at great risk with the Israeli army used to evacuate settlers. But Gaza soon fell under the hands of Hamas which has used it to launch rocket strikes into Israel. This is cited by hardliners as the reason why Israel cannot move back into the 1967 borders.

    But i feel the most logical steps for Israel to take would be

    1) Use the international community and get Hamas to recognise Israel’s right to exist while simultaneously lifting the blockade over Gaza.

    2) Stop settlement activity in the West Bank.

    3) Allow the formation of an independent Palestine state which Israel can help and cooperate with peacefully. It has shown this is possible even with the minimum assistance it has given Fatah in the West Bank.

    This may look like Israel compromising too much but in the interest of its long term security it has to do this. Or else it will only find groups arising more radical than even Hamas like the one which murdered a settler family and innocent children in their house recently.

    • Excellent assessment Ulag. You’ve summed up my thoughts on the matter exactly. I would also add that there needs to be more cultural and physical exposure between the two peoples, especially the younger generations. Polls are finding that increasingly fewer Palestinians and Israelis have any encounters with one another, and what little exposure they get is in the context of attacks, checkpoint shakedowns, and clashes. Without an establishment of empathy and humanization, it’ll be very difficult to establish peace (especially considering that most Palestinians are young). There should be more programs encouraging commingling, such as Seeds of Peace.

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