The Palestine-Israel Journal is a quarterly of MIDDLE EAST PUBLICATIONS, a registered non-profit organization (No. 58-023862-4).
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Editorial Board

Hisham Awartani

Danny Rubinstein

Sam'an Khoury

Boaz Evron

Walid Salem

Ari Rath

Zahra Khalidi

Daniel Bar-Tal

Ammar AbuZayyad

Galit Hasan-Rokem

Khaled Abu Aker

Galia Golan

Nazmi Ju'beh

Gershon Baskin

Edy Kaufman

Ata Qaymari

Benjamin Pogrund

Nafez Nazzal

Simcha Bahiri

Nadia Naser-Najjab

Dan Jacobson

Jumana Jaouni

Dan Leon

Anat Cygielman

Khuloud Khayyat Dajani

Izhak Schnell



Vol.9 No.3 2002 / Separation or Conciliation

Editorial

Separation or Conciliation

     by Ziad AbuZayyad and Daniel Bar-Tal

The idea of unilateral separation from the Palestinians has become a widespread ideology that drives many different Israeli political organizations and leaders. The concept is based on taking unilateral steps to separate the Israelis and the Palestinians by physical means such as fences, walls and barbed wire. There are at least ten specific plans that outline different techniques, and boundaries, for separation. The outgoing national unity government decided to carry out its own plan, and the work of erecting physical barriers is now in progress. Itís hard to predict how the break-up of the government and the decision to hold new elections will affect the pace and scope of this project.
This simplistic and populist idea is an attempt to satisfy the instinctive needs of the Israeli public for personal security, without giving much thought to its consequences and implications. It is a substitute for the renewal of serious political negotiations aimed at reaching an agreement on the unresolved issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is true that the level of trust has been greatly reduced because of the violence, but any unilateral steps will not solve the longstanding underlying problems of the conflict. On the contrary, they will fuel it for years to come.
Unilateral separation will not establish agreed borders, will not solve the problem of the settlements, will not solve the problem of Jerusalem, but it will lead to a further deterioration of the economic situation among Palestinians, will further humiliate them by caging the whole population behind a fence, and it will leave the wounds open. Such an approach will only increase hostility, animosity and the motivation to continue the violence.
We believe that the preferable alternative is serious and well-intentioned political negotiations that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel, with mutually agreed borders. Only this method of conflict resolution can ensure that Israelis and Palestinians will live in peace, security and prosperity. This is the only path that can eventually bring about the badly needed reconciliation between two nations that have suffered so much, two nations that need to change the current confrontational course of events for their mutual wellbeing.
In the very near future, the Israeli people will carry out elections that will determine who the next prime minister will be and the composition of his coalition government. These elections will have a great influence on Israeli-Palestinian relations for the coming years. We hope that the Israelis will choose the road of negotiation, peace process and reconciliation, rejecting the path of violent confrontation and continuation of the conflict.
The Palestinians can do much to encourage this trend. Palestinian attacks against Israelis have to stop. Such attacks generate support for the hawkish candidates in the Israel elections. The Palestinians can indirectly decide who the next Israeli leader will be.
At the same time, Israel has to stop all collective punishment measures against the Palestinians, such as closures, sieges, other restrictions and killing Palestinians. This will encourage moderates in that camp by assuring them that there is another way to solve the conflict rather than violence.
We believe that the preferable alternative is serious and well-intentioned political negotiations that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel, with mutually agreed borders. Only this method of conflict resolution can ensure that Israelis and Palestinians will live in peace, security and prosperity. This is the only path that can eventually bring about the badly needed reconciliation between two nations that have suffered so much, two nations that need to change the current confrontational course of events for their mutual well being.








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