Friday, June 19, 2009
Unspoken hurdles to a real peace
BY FREDERICK BUTLER, CNI Communications Director
President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have both publicly spoken about the future of the Middle East peace process. Their approaches were somewhat refreshing however, there are issues that remain unaddressed
Netanyahu's claim that Jerusalem remain as the "united capital" of the Jewish state of Israel is sure to provide more fuel for driving tension. What about the refugees, checkpoints, borders and the wall? Opening up the Gaza crossings (wherever those might be) should be step one and part of the reconciliation process.
In his recent trip to Gaza Former President Jimmy Carter stated that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are being "treated more like animals than human beings."
How can a people treated like dogs negotiate with choke chains around their necks?
On a visit to the enclave, Carter condemned Israel's January bombardment and its continuing blockade, which he said forbids even children's toys.
"I understand that even paper and crayons are treated as a security hazard," he told Gazans at a local United Nations office. "I sought an explanation of this when I met with Israeli officials and I received none, because there is no explanation."
Now that the dust has settled what can be done now to solve these problems? What, if anything, should President Obama mandate as a precursor to negotiations between the Israeli's and the Palestinians?
In regards to the division of Jerusalem, the President should adopt a policy of working representatives of all three major religions in the United States and the Holy Land.
We also suggest the president advocate the present ten acre United Nations Headquarters in East Jerusalem, formally known as the Government House of the British Mandate for Palestine as a suitable site for the government of Palestine.
Netanyahu hasn't precluded the return of refugees to the West Bank and Gaza. Over a period of time some refugees should be absorbed into Israel.
Many of the current settlements have staked out large areas beyond the building line for future growth. Returning currently vacant land at this moment to the government of Palestine would assure that the Jewish colonies would not expand --keeping in line with President Obama's demands. Discussion should also include a broad transportation corridor between Gaza and the West Bank.
The first step should be the opening of the Gaza crossings. Not allowing the people of Gaza to travel in and out of their country is not only violates human rights, but is in some ways criminal. America promotes freedom as its most important value, and denying a people this basic human right denigrates our claim as a morally just nation.
Without ending the siege of Gaza and providing real evidence that Israel will end expansion of settlements, there will be no peace.