- General Issues
- 2011 >
- Time to Negotiate the Northern and Southern Sectors of the Israeli-West Bank Border
- President Peres and Dr. Ashrawi: Thank You for Staying on Track
- Playing the Victim Card Will Not Bring Peace
- Negotiations By the Parties
- The World Should Help the Palestinian Hunger Striker
- ...and only afterwards move to discuss the topic of Jerusalem
- A Question of Accountability
- Israel Twisting in the Wind
- Netanyahu: Too Big for His Britches
- Netanyahu's "Israeli Comfort"
- How Shaul Mofaz Can Jump-Start the Peace Process
- Netanyahu on the Brink
- Time for Taking Stock
- Israel in Wonderland
- Whatever Happened to the Quartet?
- The Palestinians Want to Negotiate
- A Time for Hope and a Call for Restraint
- Israel Can Win in Gaza, But Not Now
- Congratulations to the New State of Palestine!
- Security and Borders: Both Required for Peace
- It Is Up to Israel to Restart Peace Negotiations
- Israel and Palestine: Changing the Terms of Agreement
- The Knesset Bill to Increase the Number of Women that Elect the Chief Rabbis Is Important for Jewish Women
- Proposal on Governance of the Holy Basin
- Time for Netanyahu to Reach Across the Aisle
- Tzipi Livni's Challenge
- Women Should Be Free to Pray at the Wailing Wall
- Proposed Highway through the Jordan Valley Will Backfire on Israel
- 2014 >
- We Should Applaud Herzog and Livni for Reclaiming Zionism
- The Next Israeli Government
- West Bank Citizenry and Receipt of Individuals of Palestinian Origin
- What Next for Israel?
- Palestinian statehood
- Mischief in the Trade Legislation would Hinder Progress
- What Next for America?
- Could American Firms Choose to Gradually Disinvest from Israel?
- Boycotting Israel is not anti-Semitism
- 2016 >
- 2017 >
- 2019 >
- 2020 >
- 2023 >
- About the Authors
Two States: The Only Solution
Louise Strait, November 17, 2023
One unexpected but entirely reasonable consequence of the current Hamas-Israel war that started on October 7 has been renewed attention to the importance of the two-state solution. Most striking have been pleas by current and former heads of state. “A two-state solution would be a victory for our common humanity,” wrote Jordan’s King Abdullah in the November 14 Washington Post. U.S. President Joe Biden said on November 16 that “the conflict won’t end until there’s a two-state solution.” And former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said, “If Israel produced a serious proposal for two-state negotiations, it would have a dramatic impact on the international community.”
In the aftermath of the Oslo Accords, numerous initiatives, both private and public have advocated for a viable state for Palestinians side by side with Israel. To mention a few, there was the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002, accepted by the Palestinians but rejected by Israel, and the Trump Administration’s peace plan, rolled out in 2020, which was rejected by the Palestinians but accepted, albeit very lukewarmly, by Israel. This needs to be seen through the lens that the lack of a Palestinian state, with Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank since 1967, has been a major motivator of Arab and Islamist terrorism on the one hand and Israeli expansion on the other. And this is on top of the 1948 Nakba displacement of more than 700,000 Palestinians.
Current near-universal criticism of Netanyahu’s strategy of empowering Hamas at the expense of the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank prior to October 7 and concern over his statement that Israel would have indefinite control over Gaza have added urgency to the debate about creating two states. Given that a vast majority of Israelis want Netanyahu out of office by, at the latest, the instant that the conflict is over, it is easy to imagine that he will want the conflict to endure to maintain his hold as prime minister.
Thus it is imperative that planning for “the day after” proceed apace. The international consensus is that post-war Gaza should be under international control, with an eye to ultimate governance by the Palestinian Authority. This was made explicit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken when he said, “The future of Gaza must include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.”
There have been many opinions as to who should take the lead in the “day after” planning. In the New York Times, Thomas Friedman advocated that the US take a leading role with the “Biden Peace plan,” ostensibly a redo of the earlier Trump plan. There are many competitors for this role in Israel. One highly plausible advocate for an equitable future is Gershon Baskin, the prominent peace activist who successfully negotiated the release of Gilad Shalit; his “Plan for the Day After Tomorrow” appearing In the Times of Israel can be boiled down to ending the occupation, forming a state of Palestine that is recognized by the UN, and choosing new Palestinian and Israeli leaders.
But any plan, no matter how grandiose or mundane, must have women as its core, both as the citizens of any new reality and its creators. This is for several reasons. First, women on both sides have suffered disproportionately in this conflict, as evidenced, for a start, by stories of the horrors of Arab women giving birth in the Gaza invasion and Israeli women raped by Hamas on October 7. Second, women on both sides, especially in the younger generation, have demonstrated the energy and commitment to a shared future, as shown in the November 16 New York Times article on two such Israeli and Palestinian women, “A New Generation of Peacemakers Wants to be Part of the Dialogue About the ‘Day After.’” Finally, learning to trust women would be a small step that adherents of the two patriarchal traditions in Israel/Palestine could take toward the larger step of overcoming hatred and fear of the “Other,” which will have to happen if there is to be an enduring peace.
If we can't see Gaza's dead children's eyes, can we see children at all?
Gideon Levy, Haaretz, Nov. 5, 2023
Is there a difference between children and children? Are the photos of children killed in Jabalya supposed to shock us less than those of children killed in Be’eri? Are photos of dead children in Jabalya even supposed to shock us, and is it legitimate to be shocked by them?
Our own children are dearer to our heart than anything in the world, and the heart of every Israeli is more shocked by Israeli children who have been killed than by any other dead child. That’s human and understandable. But we cannot refrain from leaving room for shock at the mass slaughter of children in Gaza, only because our children were also killed.
Download the entire Citizen's Proposal
Justice in the Middle East Requires Real Change
Alison Wakelin, October 21, 2023
With the murderous terrorist acts of Hamas, we have come to the end of what can be endured by a world that thought it was emerging into a time of reason and economic relations between countries, only to be plunged back into darkness. Conflicts erupt where peace was always just a thin veneer over a roiling anger and sense of injustice.
We find ourselves now confronting two major challenges worldwide. We do not have stable economic relations when gross inequality rules every nation. We cling on to the control and dominance form of government that pulls us backwards into the illusory “good old days.”
Israel and the Palestinians, of course, have on top of these issues a centuries-long trauma between them. Inequality is a glaring problem, and Israel’s current far-right government takes control and dominance to a new level. How can we imagine the pain that drives the daily conflict between the two populations of this one small country? How can we understand the pain that drives acts of desperation and murder, driving the chasm between two peoples always deeper?
But it is no longer a conflict between two people, because Israel is so much stronger, due to decades of policies that eradicated Palestinian input into their own lives, leaving over two million of them forced into a small, overcrowded enclave in Gaza, where unemployment and hopelessness now is their reality. Recent expansion of settlements in the West Bank, destruction of Palestinian homes and villages, and an ever-decreasing amount of land that belongs to Palestinians has only served to create more anger, and a hopeless situation where many have nothing to lose. This circumstance was ripe for exploitation by Hamas and other militant Islamic terrorists, a situation not hard to have predicted.
America and the world have to prioritize justice, not self-advantage, not their security alone. Of course, Israel should have a country, but also of course those who also live there should have self-determination, their own country, a home free from outside control. And this requires everyone to recognize first that Hamas is not Palestine. Hamas has not brought any benefit to the Palestinians in its terrorist actions.
Destruction of the Palestinian people in revenge will not solve anything, only draw in a wider conflict, involving the Arab world, Iran, Russia and China, and possible spill-over into other regions of the world. Hamas must meet justice, but over the past two decades America has just experienced the consequences of meting out justice too widely and too quickly, as it did post-9/11, and therefore should counsel wisdom.
If Israeli President Herzog would bring in a small group of stakeholders now, it could be effective in carving out a wider peace while preventing what could turn into genocide. A meeting between, for example, Herzog, former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, Vice President Kamala Harris, Egypt’s President Al-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah and Palestinian politician/activist Hanan Ashrawi could create a much better long-term outcome than is likely at this time. Three women and three men is a key point, because a core issue in the Middle East is the lack of equality of women. The ruling coalition in the Knesset has a mere five women, not a good sign for moderation and peace.
While two separate states may seem the only possible solution, we cannot see clearly from the outside; - all we can do is be there to safeguard both people and prevent a wider conflict. Decisions must be made by those involved - not Hamas, but the victims of Hamas. A clear plan for the future of the region will raise possible steps forward in deals to release the foreign and Israeli hostages, which surely must take precedence for now.
The world needs a powerful, safe and stable Middle East. We need all that the descendants of Abraham have to offer the world - strong intellect, technological prowess without losing the heart, a depth too easily lost by others in the never-ending quest for progress and wealth. Those who have the deepest heart also feel the deepest hurt, but must not let their deep sensitivity cause an irreversible violence and permanent split.