Sunday, January 27, 2008

What if?

Mural at the Ibillin Mar Elias School depicting interfaith cooperation leading to peace

Many people have ideas about how to end this conflict. As we've traveled through Israel and Palestine these last two weeks, I've started to generate my own ideas too. It's clear there are few "practical" solutions, but it's also clear that some pieces are missing if there is to be a way out of this decades-long mess. Rather than focus on the past - all of the hurts and pains of 60+ years of living without peace and harmony - here are some thoughts about how to move into a new future:

Americans - This is what I'll be advocating for from my own government 1) All future aid to Israel should be made contingent on granting of full and equal human rights to all Israeli citizens and anyone under the authority of the Israeli government. 2) Support a return to the 1967 borders and demolition of any walls and separation barriers not on the Green Line. 3) Commitment to economic development in a new Palestine to ensure an end to Palestinian poverty and an increase in the economic well-being of Palestinians.

Palestinians 1) A full and unequivocal repudiation of violence against Israeli civilians and acceptance of a permanent state of Israel in the 1967 borders.2) A Bill of Rights for all Palestinian citizens granting such rights as due process, freedom from discrimination, etc. 3) Full citizenship in Palestine for all Israeli settlers who remain following an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders.4) Creation of a state police function and full judicial system to guarantee justice for all inside a new Palestine.

Israelis 1) Creation of a Bill of Rights guaranteeing equality to all Israeli citizens. 2) Withdrawal from all territories in the West Bank beyond the 1967 borders and demolition of all parts of the Wall not on the 1967 border. 3) Financial reparations to Palestinians who can show legitimate claims to pre-1948 property ownership inside Israel

Why should a plan like this work? First, it would do away with some of the most significant reasons for the conflict: lack of security for Israelis, lack of human rights for the Palestinians, etc. Why would a
plan like this not work? Because the enormous energy given to this conflict by its current participants may take generations to unwind, given the high level of investment by both sides in the current state of affairs.

But what if it could happen? The one player who could make this work is America. We're recognized by both sides as having a key role in resolution of the conflict. If we'd take a fresh look at it, enforce a fair solution, and stand behind partners on both sides who are
committed to peace it just might work. And what a wonder if it did. So many prayers would come true . . . . .


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