Thursday, July 9, 2009

The High Price of Israeli-Palestinian Peace

A just and secure peace in Israel-Palestine, a scenario in which Jews and Palestinians can coexist with mutual good will, whether in two separately-governed states side-by-side or within each who will undoubtedly govern a mixture of both peoples within their respective jurisdictions, will require a monumental restructuring to dismantle the monolithic economic and political structures that have contributed to their alienation and disparities. The dream will demand a high price in good faith. But the price must be paid, sooner or later. We must begin, I believe, to talk about what justice and peaceful coexistence and true security mean and what must be done to truly achieve them.

B'tselem, Israel's Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories paints a difficult picture when it comes to one of the most contentious issues of this conflict, that of the settlements that now fill the Israeli occupied West Bank. Check out this link along with this one as a background to these thoughts. Consider also this 2002 map of the West Bank and consider that this is occupied Palestinian land: West Bank settlements map. Consider that Israel controls 80% of the water here and that the World Bank has this week (July 9, 2009)noted publicly the deteriorating quality and increasing costs of the water Palestinians are receiving, confirming increasing incidences of diarrhea and water born illnesses in Palestinian households.

Consider also that the West Bank is fenced off and divided up by a complex network of settler-only roads and checkpoints controlled by the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) that limit access to Palestinians. These settlements and this network of "cantons" are a major source of frustration, economic hardship, a violation of Geneva Conventions and international law, and a significant obstacle to peace.

Dismantling and transforming these "facts on the ground" which Israel has persisted in creating against all odds and opposition, will be one of the necessary hurdles on the road to a viable peace. Perhaps the one redeeming value of these "facts" lies in the possibility that they could constitute a meaningful offer in reparations to Palestinian refugees if turned over intact as part of a genuine gesture towards a truly transformative peace. I am convinced this will be a necessary component of a just solution. Part of such a transformation will be a meaningful resolve to work together towards mutual coexistence and economic prosperity. The challenge of "selling" this notion to the Israeli settlers who now live in the settlements and consider them "home" will be difficult. But Israelis and Palestinians must begin to envision a new reality - of coexistence and genuine good will. It will take courage and statesmanship unlike any we have seen in history. Even Anwar Sadat's will pale next to what must be achieved here now.

I believe two things: that such a call for justice is both necessary and possible. It will however not be easy because many have much to lose in restoring the scales of justice.


Maggie said...

Wow David - this is the first time I have been on your blog. It's amazingly beautiful! The prayer for peace that you have written here that Fatemeh read caught me off guard and I find myself crying. Overwhelmed today by the dysfunction and brokenness of the world - I really needed to read your blog. Thanks for engaging your artistic and thoughtful reflections in response to the evil that is.

David Kreider said...

Maggie, thanks for your kind words, it is encouraging to discover kindred spirits when we feel overwhelmed, as you say, by the dysfunction and brokenness. Glad you've found such a connection with the prayer for peace, and thanks for your words of appreciation. I too have struggled to feel hope, and more than anything, it is good to know we are not alone with the evils that otherwise seem so pervasive.. There is much good, many courageous voices speaking out. May we take courage in each other and join our prayers.