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The Israel-Palestinian Piece of the Muslim Puzzle
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The Israel-Palestinian Piece of the Muslim Puzzle

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Assuming the thesis advanced in a previous post that the tragedy in Syria will only be resolved if and when the Muslims themselves want it to be solved, what does this mind set have to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?  What are Israel’s options and what are the consequences? Sadly, from Israel’s perspective, resolving their own issues with the Palestinians comes down to the same problem as in Syria.

The Israelis will not have a partner for peace until the Arab world decides that Israel has a place in the region. If the Arabs are genuinely committed to the Saudi (now called Arab) peace plan, however, there may be a real opportunity for a negotiated arrangement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. If not, then Israel has only one option if it wants to continue as a democratic Jewish State. Israel will need to define the boundaries and then begin the process of relocating settlers from the West Bank.

While maintaining military control and preventing the West Bank from becoming another launching pad for anti-Israel guerillas, Israel needs to implement a program to gradually relocate the settlers out of the West Bank. Curiously there is now actually a political coalition which could design such a strategy if it so desired. Admittedly, unilateral action was not effective in ending the conflict in Gaza as had been hoped.  In this instance the problems will be far greater and more complicated; nevertheless, it is becoming readily apparent that there is no alternative.

For Israel, it is should be apparent–Naftali Bennett’s recent statement notwithstanding—that the Palestinians have no leadership ready to enter into formal, productive negotiations. The Palestinians, even the more moderate ones, appear ready to wait it out until Israel becomes an apartheid state or a non-Jewish democracy.  A democratic Jewish State cannot exist in 50 years–or less—if Israel waits to have a partner with whom to negotiate. Israel may be completely right that borders and solutions ought to be negotiated, but this is not necessarily the way it is done in the Arab world. Consequently, Israel can either act creatively and live in a world where it is secure militarily or continue to wait for a non-existent partner to emerge.

Jewish and Western norms would argue to negotiate, but these are not the values of the Muslim world.  The Jewish democratic state cannot wait it out. The Arabs will wait because they believe this is how you negotiate. Only Israel can create a two-state solution.

As is the case in Syria, the norms of this region are different. Muslims kill Muslims, stop for a while, and then often fight again. Unless there is a serious change in the mindset of the Palestinian leadership, their belief in their inevitable victory is all powerful.  For Israel to survive, it must define its own terms for its existence in a way that it can maintain its safety and security; but it is becoming more and more apparent that territory and settlements will not insure a Jewish democratic state.

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