Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Restating the Two-State Solution

My friend Saliba Sarsar, takes exception to the Sari Nussbaum piece and publishes this article in the Higher Education Chronicle.
He restates the need for the "two-state" solution, even though that "way" has not made any progress for at least 6 decades now (it was proposed by a special UN commission before Israel unilaterally declared it independence in 1948).
Each "side" says it wants to "negotiate", but it just never happens. Both sides argue their case in public, using the popular media to press their case; never to sit down and talk with each other. There is bad faith. Neither side trusts the other to really converse about the nitty-gritty.
So, here is the politically correct view once again, admirably stated by my collaborator and good friend, Prof. Sarsar. JRK

A Way Forward for Israelis and Palestinians
Saliba Sarsar
The Chronicle of Higher Education (Opinion)
March 6, 2011 - 12:00am

"Is This Man Dangerous?" asks the headline on the cover of Haim Watzman's article on how the maverick Sari Nusseibeh is challenging Middle East orthodoxies (The Chronicle Review, February 4). The answer is a definite no. As a philosopher president (of Al-Quds University), he regularly floats ideas to question assumptions and authority, to think outside the box, in order to educate and to transform reality.

With all due respect, Nusseibeh's idea of having Israel give the Palestinians on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip civil but not political rights as an interim route to peace between Palestinians and Israelis is not the way forward. It evades the central issue, prolongs the painful status quo, and postpones the inevitable.

As Hussein Ibish and I have argued in our book Principles and Pragmatism (American Task Force on Palestine, 2006), the facts are clear. First, Israel ruling millions of Palestinians who are not citizens of Israel or any other state and large amounts of Palestinian territory beyond the internationally recognized boundaries of Israel is completely untenable. Second, plans demanding complete Israeli/Jewish or Palestinian/Muslim rule over the whole of historical Palestine generate continued conflict and violence without apparent resolution, since neither side can seriously hope for any sort of comprehensive military solution. Third, utopian visions of a single, democratic state in which Israelis and Palestinians both set aside their national identities in favor of an as-yet-undefined umbrella identity in some sort of joint or binational state may be appealing in their own way, but do not constitute a practical path to ending the conflict.

In our real world, which is only a slight approximation of the ideal world of the philosopher king, a doable and just solution consists of Israel and Palestine—two sovereign states—living side by side in security, peace, and prosperity. As the American Task Force on Palestine has repeatedly stated, this solution, with a Palestine built on democracy, pluralism, defensive defense, and neutrality, is in the best national interest of all concerned, including the United States, Palestine, and Israel. It is the responsibility of the United States in particular and the other members of the Middle East Quartet in general to push hard for the resumption and sustenance of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. What is agreed upon, however, remains the prerogative of the parties themselves.

Sari Nusseibeh should not despair. He must continue to use his voice and touch to bring about a peaceful resolution of the conflict for the two nations—Israelis and Palestinians—and three religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—that share Jerusalem.

Saliba Sarsar
Professor of Political Science
Associate Vice President for Global Initiatives
Monmouth University
Monmouth, N.J.

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