Friday, March 8, 2013

Palestinians Must Decide Who Speaks For Them

What is holding up progress for a peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians? Is it Jewish members of the Knesset? Could it be the current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu or more hard-lined members of his coalition government? The answer is a qualified NO. Neither, nor any of these entities are the main stumbling block to a much sought after peace between those in Israel and those in lands under Palestinian control. It is the inability of the Palestinian Arabs themselves to speak with one voice who are the responsible party for a lack of peace in the area.

Nearly everyone involved with this peace making process recognizes that the first thing necessary is the agreement on a two-State system within “The Holy Land.” I personally am not one of those proponents, but then again I am not involved in the process. For those who are central to the process this two-State idea is a given. Netanyahu and his government see this as the only viable solution as has every Prime Minister and coalition since the beginning of such undertakings after 1973. Most Israeli citizens want to give it a try. Those outside of Israel involved with trying to vie for peace also have accepted this two-State option including, the United States, Russia, the E.U., as well as, many Arab States like Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Even China is onboard with this two-State solution.

So one must ask - What is the problem? Why can’t this two-State remedy get a solid footing in the region? Who or what is standing in the way? The answer is actually a pretty simple one. Palestinians are not speaking with one voice. There is no unity from within those areas under their control. The people and their region are being ripped apart from within by conflicting voices. For the future of a “Palestine” to become a reality one voice must come forth from the region, a voice accepted by the vast majority of Palestinians as that person or group speaking on their behalf. There cannot be one voice coming from Ramallah in the West Bank and another coming out of Gaza City in the Strip, especially when even these two cannot come to an agreement on the best course for the Arabs living in Palestinian controlled segments of the country.

Before any peace can be achieved with Israel the Palestinian Arab peoples need to decide once and for all who speaks for them. Is it the elected government of the terrorist group Hamas in Gaza or the more moderate wing of Arabs in the West Bank led by the duly elected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas? Until this problem has been addressed and fully dealt with then no solution can or will ever be found for the region regardless of who leads such an effort. President Obama can’t do it nor can the Israelis no matter who or which party is leading the Jewish State.

Israel cannot and should not make any deals or concessions, particularly those that have to do with land concessions or building stoppages until Palestinians are willing to come to the table with a unified voice. Once that is completed and whoever is leading the Palestinian cause is willing to completely recognize the existence of the State of Israel then progress for any type of peace treaty can begin to take shape. If President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry wish to relay any kind of message to the Palestinian Arab people during their upcoming visit to the region then this is the one they need to hear most.

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