Monday, May 30, 2011

Israel has few choices

US President Barack Obama's recent speech to the State Department on the American Middle East policy had one striking feature: the world's most powerful country is helpless in front of its most dependent country, Israel.

Following the series of events in the MENA region - dubbed the 'Arab Spring' - the two factions of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and Hamas, agreed to a peace deal and elections in both the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank. Instead of embracing this development that could finally lead to peace in the region, Israel has now refused to talk even to Fatah!

The core problem lies in Israel's illegal colonies in the West Bank. By International law, these are treated as illegal and no country has recognized the occupation as being legitimate - not even the US. The world recognizes Tel Aviv as Israel's Capital - not Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Foreign Minister must know that Israel has lot the moral conviction and force that gave it legitimacy in the first place by illegally occupying lands thus.

The existence of Israel is not in question - Jews must have a homeland of their own, well-protected from any force that wishes to repeat Hitler's deeds in the future. But even the Jews of Israel must understand that Palestinians have a right to a state of their own as well. And the solution lies in a compromise that is very much within our reach - a two-state solution, Israel and Palestine living side-by-side . The Palestinians are ready to make concessions, perhaps even give up East Jerusalem, but Israel must be prepared to make concessions as well. That is the way we solve problems.

The Netanyahu Government is not doing that - in fact, it's doing everything to prevent a compromise. This does not help Israel or anybody else for that matter. Israel's allies are ready to stand by Israel if it can come up with a viable accord along with the Palestinians, but the current Government does not seem interested in such a thing. In such a situation, Israel will find itself alone in the world, with only an American veto there to protect it. How long is Israel prepared to live in such a precarious situation?

The time for compromise on both sides is now. This generation can see a peace deal if Israel shows some maturity.

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