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If we are looking at a way of ending violence between Israel and the Palestinians, then we can say go back to the original proposal of 1947 of dividing Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state.  President Mahmoud Abbas said it was a mistake, not to accept the United Nations vote.  So now it is trying to go back and correct past mistakes.  In order to do so, now we have to look at how to make the West Bank and Gaza into realistic candidates for a nation-state.  First of all, the West Bank is going to have to be a contiguous entity.  It cannot be a patch quilt of an Israeli settlement here, and a Palestinian village over the hill, both flying their own flags, and having their own municipal services.  So it breaks down to either have the Israeli settlers return to the pre-1967 borders, or stay and become citizens of Palestine.  Now this leads to the next issue, an economy for Gaza.  Israel no longer has a presence in Gaza, except for the airstrikes.  But the problems in Gaza are manifold.  Despite what the press portrays, Hamas does not have absolute control over Gaza.  Hamas has to deal with other factions such as Islamic Jihad, Popular Resistance Committees, Salafists, and uncontrolled drug dealing. You can blame it on the Israeli blockade, but it seems to go beyond just that.  Palestinian elections are scheduled in May, and it is hoped that Al Fatah can take over administering Gaza.  But does that means that Gaza's problems will disappear?  Factious vying for power, 98% of its businesses not operating, and 45% unemployment seems like great obstacles to overcome.  When Yasir Arafat was alive a lot went into international assistance for developing a Palestinian economy, but many allegations were made that Arafat handed this aid over to his cronies, who were expatriates living in Western Europe, like his wife.  It did go into building an airport in Gaza, which was destroyed during the second intifada in 2002.  But there is the ability to rebuild, and have the airport be a location where Israeli farmers can bring fresh fruit and flowers to be flown to markets in Europe, as oppose to going all the way up to Ben-Gurion Airport.  Thus creating a service sector within Gaza.  It seems grandiose, but so is the probability of peace between Israel and Jordan, to jointly work on environmental problems affecting the Dead Sea.  Israel and Jordan are now at peace, and they can work on environmental problems and economic development of the region.  But back to Gaza, the 1.5 million citizens deserve something better, and to take it a step at a time, to address the political instability, and more important of all, economic viability of the region.  Peace is not impossible, it just takes hard work.

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The question is, can Gaza get everything it needs strictly through smuggling?  It is not getting desperately needed building materials through smuggling, and Gaza needs building materials.  So individuals are making a profit off smuggling, but does everyone in Gaza benefit from that?  It is also not getting desperately needed fuel through smuggling.  Originally, they were to get it from Israel, but Hamas turned it down, because they did not want "Zionist diesel."  So they had to go through a much lengthy process of getting it from Egypt.  So smuggling is not answering all of Gaza's prayers, neither is opening the Rafah crossing with Egypt.  So this goes back to there has to be an open border between Gaza and Israel.  That way Gaza can get commodities such as building material and diesel fuel, not to mention water and electricity.  So whoever rules  Gaza, it is going to have to open itself up to Israel, to get those commodities.  Because what they are getting from Egypt has been delayed fuel, no building materials, and patients going through the Rafah crossing to seek medical treatment.  So no matter what their level of contact is with Egypt, that too is not answering their prayers either.

No, Tim, you are trying to control the discussion through diversion.  To put it succinctly, Hamas has no interest in solving problems which affect its populace because Hamas officialdom profits mightily when there are shortages which can be partially met at inflated prices through their monopoly on smuggling.  If Hamas had the interest of the populace at heart, they would disallow attacks on Israel and begin to negotiate bonafide business deals.  Please pay attention!

It seems to be Hamas days are numbered.  First of all, Palestinian elections are scheduled in May, and Hamas leaders have either resigned or announced that they will not seek re-election.  Also, with how much people have been left destitute by Hamas' bad management of the economy, would they be willing to vote for them again?  I know one woman in Gaza, who had to wait two weeks before the arrival of fuel from Egypt.  She said I voted for Hamas once, and I will not vote for them again -- if the have candidates to vote for.  The people in Gaza could have gotten that fuel much faster from Israel, if Hamas did not refuse it because it did not want to let in "Zionist diesel."  How many people in Gaza think like this woman does?  Smuggling has benefitted some, but by no means all.  Hamas is also getting pressured by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the one in which Hamas is an extension of.  Brotherhood party officials say they will continue to honor the 1979 peace accord with Israel, and this should set an example to Hamas about coexistence.  So two things have not gone in favor for Hamas -- smuggling, and attacks on Israel.  Because what have the attacks on Israel brought?  Nothing more than devastating airstrikes.  Are the people of Gaza that stupid?  We will know after May.

It won't matter how the populace of Gaza votes, the elections, if they happen at all, will either be rigged in Hamas' favour or Hamas will refuse to pay attention to the results or else Islamic Jihad, the so-called Peoples' Party and al-Queda will stage a coup.  You niavely suppose that the democratic will of the Arab people in Gaza will have its way.  Where in the Arab world, incidentally, does democracy have its way?  In Syria?  In Iran? In Lebanon?  No, No and No!  Only in Israel.

I worked with the Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute on the Palestinian elections held in 2006.  One thing these organizations were to specifically do is monitor that they were not to be rigged.  Which they were not.  As for not paying attention to results, this is exactly what happened when Hamas staged a coup to take power in Gaza.  That is the reason for Al Fatah and Hamas to come together, so that will not be repeated.  Basically, Hamas has relinquished power to Al Fatah.  So it will be interesting to see if Hamas can rear its ugly head again.  Because there is going to have to be Palestinian unity to negotiate with Israel.  A lack of Palestinian unity is what brought down the Camp David Accord in 2000.  What has that brought to the Palestinian people but suffering.  No, they are not all sitting around their dinner tables in the evening talking about how they are going to destroy Israel.  They are talking about things in everyday normal life.  Which is what they want to do, live everyday normal lives.  As for the other parties, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, that will probably more of a headache to Al Fatah.  The Salafists are the only one in link with Al-Qaeda, and they have been fighting Hamas.  They kidnapped and murdered Italian journalist Vittorio Arrigoni, to retaliate against Hamas killing some of their members.  If a coup is staged, only Hamas would have the ability to do it.  The three other groups do not have the military capability to do so.  Instead, they will be a thorn in the side, for Israel, and also for Al Fatah and the Muslim Brotherhood.  Democratic elections are probably better established in the Palestinian territories, than anywhere else in the Arab world -- let us exclude Iran, because it is not Arab.  Israel can definitely pride itself on its democracy, and I know about how easy it is to start a political party in Israel.  But with past Palestinian elections, there was an element of democracy, and there was not.  Let see what happens in May.

Ghazi, you have a selective memory. Remember the Palestinian election that was carefully supervised by the UN and Jimmy Carter, and ISRAEL THEN IMPRISIONED THE ELECTED MEMBERS. So, you see, Israel also behaves in the exact same way as all the other dictators in the Middle East.

With Israel dominating the agenda, it is purposeless to make any effort on any front.

 

Remember, Israel is a Jewish State, so anyone who is not JEWISH is deliberately disadvantaged - for no reason other than they are NOT JEWISH. 

WHAT KIND OF A DEMOCRACY IS THAT ??

 

I think we need to clarify some information here.  First of all, the United Nations no longer supervises over elections.  That has been handed over to non-government organizations (NGOs), such as the Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute.  Palestinian elections were first held in 2006, and there is no record anywhere, that those elected were arrested.  The two leaders that have been arrested are Marwan Barghouti -- who by the way has a Ph.D. in Zionism -- who was arrested in 2002.  Four years before the Palestinian elections were held.  The second is Azia Al-Duwalk, who was arrested in 2012.  There has been arrests of individuals, but these are the only political leaders I am aware of.  As for Israel defining itself as a Jewish State, that has some loose definitions to it.  I remember the grilling interview I had at Ben-Gurion Airport, and this immigration agent asked me "were you raised Jewish?"  I said no I wasn't.  She frond at me. and I told her I was the product of a Sephardic mother, who died when I was young, and I was handed over to non-Jews to be raised, so no I was not raised Jewish.  Then she exclaimed "you are the product of a Jewish mother, so that makes you Jewish."  I said "yes you are right."  But then I had rabbis say, that since I was not raised Jewish, then I am not Jewish.  What the hell am I?  I guess we can really say it is an act of democracy, to determine what I am.

It would be great if you were right about non-rigged elections, Tim.  I think you are seriously niave about things Mideastern, however, just as your elder, Jimmy Carter, was (and remains).

If I am naive about anything Middle Eastern, just be glad that I have lived there, went to school there, learned their cultures, languages, and religions.  So when it comes to the Middle East, I think I have some qualifications to talk about it.  As for Jimmy Carter, he his to speak for himself.  If all elections in the Middle East are rigged, then that question has to be applied to Israel, because Israel is in the Middle East.  That is what I am working for incorporating Israel into the political and economic fabric of the Middle East.  So do not look at yourself as just Israeli, but as Middle Eastern.  We have to go beyond the Diaspora term of just Mizahi.

I said you were niave about the possibility of non-rigged elections, Tim.  That you appear to have knowledge of Mideastern matters does not mean that  you cannot be wrong in some or even in all of your opinions/perspectives.

You also make a logical error in equating Israel, basically a Jewish country with a strong western democratic ethos with any of the countries of Arab/Muslim orientation.

Finally, I am not from Israel and I am not Jewish.  I was born and brought up in Lebanon and have lived part of my adult life there.  I was also educated in the USA, have resided there for much of my adult life and live there now (Boston).  I write this in order to clarify what may have been a source of confusion to you.

It was not my intent to offend you and am truly sorry if my post indicated that I thought you were niave about all matters Mideastern.  If my post did indicate that, I apologize.  I appreciate your presence on this forum and the various perspectives you bring to it although (and I think you'll agree) I still retain the right to disagree. Incidentally, I especially appreciate that when you are unsure, in doubt or simply unable to respond knowledgeably, you always say something to the effect, "Hold it, I need to research this matter" or "My basis for understanding is not sufficient at this time."  In fact, such an attitude is quite refreshing.  Nonetheless, I still think your hopes for unrigged elections in the Arab countries of the Mideast are niave.

Ghazi, HAMAS IS POWERLESS, compared to Israel. The whole world knows this. How you could have failed to notice?

 

Ghazi, you say here that Hamas should ‘begin to negotiate bonafide business deals’.   WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT ??

You make it very obvious that YOU are more interested in business deals that you are in peace. Thank God Hamas is actually more committed to the needs of Palestinians that they are in business deals with Israelis.

There is no such thing as a BONAFIDE BUSINESS DEAL BETWEEN THE PALESTINIANS AND ISRAEL. ISRAEL CONTROLS ALL PALESTINIAN BORDERS THROUGH MILITARY DOMINATION. This automatically creates an environment that is skewed to the advantage of Israeli businessmen.

As a businessman, you would know this well. You have no competition. Of course you will always resist any change to a situation where you have such a comfortable monopoly.

Business deals between the Palestinians and Israel will lead to peace.  Why?  Simple money talks, and everybody needs money.  Hamas has not been committed to the needs of the Palestinians.  They have greatly delayed the shipment of fuel, electricity, and certain medicines, because they preferred getting it from Egypt, then to get it from the "Zionist sources."  Building up the economy of Gaza with port facilities, will mean that it will not have to be so dependent on it all coming through Israel.  What Gaza so desperately needs now is building materials, and Israel wants this to come through Israeli ports, so not to risk having weapons coming into Gaza.  If there is business deals between Gaza and israel, then that could provided economic viability, which could deter Gaza away from violence with israel.  There are Palestinian businessmen, because I have worked with them.  Like all businessmen anywhere in the world, they want to expand their operations.  Why, because it is making more money.  One thing I have noticed about these discussions, is that either Israelis or Palestinians are portrayed as something less than human.  I have been in the homes of both, and they both have bathrooms.  So I am sure that they are human enough to use them.

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