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Home arrow Blog arrow September 2008 arrow September 19, 2008

September 19, 2008
WAWA Blog September 19, 2008: By MAHMOUD ABBAS and Bishop Tutu With gratitude to Sam Bahour for forwarding:


WALL STREET JOURNAL
OPINION
SEPTEMBER 19, 2008
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122178624406455063.html


Israel and Palestine Can Still Achieve Peace
By MAHMOUD ABBAS

This month marks 15 painful years since the Arafat-Rabin handshake on the White House lawn. Palestinian children who started school when the Oslo Agreement was signed in 1993 are now young adults. They have not known a day of true freedom or genuine security in their lives.

Oslo offered peace on a timetable, freedom doled out in stages. Its promise was derailed by increased Israeli settlement construction, restrictions on Palestinian movement and, correspondingly, by violent resistance to occupation from some Palestinians. The process begun by President George Bush in Annapolis last year offers another opportunity to reach a lasting peace. History will judge none of us kindly if we squander this opportunity.

I continue to believe that we can achieve a lasting peace, with the Israeli and Palestinian peoples living as neighbors in two independent states. But if we do not succeed, and succeed soon, the parameters of the debate are apt to shift dramatically. Israel's continued settlement expansion and land confiscation in the West Bank makes physical separation of our two peoples increasingly impossible. The number of Israeli settlers in the Palestinian West Bank grew by approximately 85% after the Oslo accords were signed.

We are impatient for our freedom. Yet partial peace, as proposed again by my current interlocutors, is not the way forward. Partial freedom is a contradiction in terms. Either a Palestinian lives free or continues to live under the yoke of Israeli military occupation.

We want our children to live with hope and the opportunity to realize their potential. Yet our daily reality worsens. We are walled into shrinking pockets of land, reminiscent of the Bantustans of South Africa. Increasingly, Israel confines us to separate and inferior roads.

Israeli leaders insist that Jerusalem not be physically divided. I agree. Although Jerusalem's sovereignty must be divided, the city itself can be shared as the capital of two states -- east for Palestine and west for Israel. While claiming to abhor dividing the city in half, Israel nonetheless splits the city through its complex of walls, tunnels and laws that segregate and discriminate between Muslim and Christian Palestinians and Israeli Jews. Israel continues to encircle the holy city with exclusively Jewish settlements that sever it from the rest of the occupied West Bank.

We acknowledge the hardships faced by our Israeli neighbors. No Israeli child should go to sleep at night in fear. The irony is that although Israel possesses the strongest military in the region, its might cannot guarantee security for its people. The lesson of the last 15 years is that only a just peace can bring true security to Israel and Palestine.

I have long believed that we must resolve our differences at the negotiating table rather than on the battlefield. But the goal of these negotiations must be a fair, comprehensive and clear agreement. The negotiations cannot be a cover allowing the stronger party to continue imposing its will.

Rather than a partial outcome, we seek an agreement resulting in two viable and sovereign states based on 1967 borders, including a Jerusalem that is the capital of two states and a just resolution that honors the rights of the Palestinian refugees.

What is often overlooked is the enormous historic compromise we already made in accepting the two-state solution and the creation of our state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on only 22% of our historic homeland. No responsible leader could agree to a peace that further erodes this tiny territory and strips away even more of its natural resources, historic sites and beautiful landscapes. And no responsible leader will accept a "peace plan" that repackages the occupation and makes it permanent.

Israel says its goal is two states, coexisting in peace. Again, I agree. But those states must be real states -- sovereign, independent and viable. I cannot subject my people to an Israeli state and a Palestinian canton. Israel cannot have both control and peace. It cannot perpetually and illegally build settlements in the West Bank, particularly in East Jerusalem, and then argue it must keep that territory because of the existing facts on the ground.

During her most recent visit to the Holy Land, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice rightly noted that Israeli settlement activity is not helpful to the peace process. Israel itself recognized this by agreeing to implement Phase I of its Roadmap obligations at Annapolis -- in other words, a settlement freeze. Yet since Annapolis, the pace of Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank has nearly doubled.

Israel's occupation mindset must be exchanged for partnership and peace. And Hamas must come to the table, willing to discuss a true national dialogue based on the PLO political program. Palestinian national consensus and unity is a pressing need for our people who are thirsty for liberation. A critical Fatah conference should be held soon to allow a new generation to take charge of the Palestinian national movement.

I pledge my full cooperation in the days and months ahead. I am thankful for the efforts of the Bush administration to assist in brokering peace. I again extend my hand to the Israeli people, and I urge them and their leaders to make a choice that ensures a secure and prosperous future for both our peoples.

Mr. Abbas is chairman of the executive committee of the PLO and president of the Palestinian National Authority.

Copyright 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Thanks to Omar for forwarding:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1022535.html


Tutu: World doesn't criticize Israel because of the Holocaust
By Reuters, Haaretz, 19 September 2008


South African Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Thursday accused the West of complicity in Palestinian suffering by its silence, suggesting it did not want to criticize Israel because of the Holocaust.

Tutu spoke after delivering a report to the United Nations about Israel's deadly shelling of the town of Beit Hanun in Gaza in November 2006, which he said may constitute a war crime.

He criticized the international community for failing to speak out against the suffering in Gaza, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, under an Israeli blockade.

"This silence begets complicity," he told the UN Human Rights Council.

Tutu later told a news conference: "I think the West, quite rightly, is feeling contrite, penitent, for its awful connivance with the Holocaust."

"The penance is being paid by the Palestinians. I just hope again that ordinary citizens in the West will wake up and say 'we refuse to be part of this'," he said.

The Geneva-based Human Rights Council on Thursday debated the report on his fact-finding mission conducted last May, which called for an independent investigation into the Israeli strike that killed 19 Palestinians, all but one from the same family.

The Israeli military, after carrying out its own investigation, said in February that it had directed artillery fire against the Beit Hanun area on Nov. 8 2006, on the basis of intelligence that militants were planning rocket attacks.

Israeli ambassador Aharon Leshno Yaar told the Council on Thursday: "A thorough internal investigation was conducted and the results of this investigation shared with the United Nations. Nothing can be gained by rehashing this topic now."

But Tutu, who won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle against apartheid in his homeland, said his mission never had access to the internal Israeli report.

It was regrettable that Israel had not cooperated with his team, although it admitted responsibility for the strike.

"No verifiable explanation has been offered, no independent impartial and transparent investigation has been held, no one has been held to account," Tutu said.

In talks with senior Hamas officials, Tutu said he demanded an end to the firing of rockets into Israel, saying Hamas has an obligation to respect international humanitarian law.

"Families living in Sderot have the right to live without the fear of rockets, however crude, dropping from the sky," he said.

Israel and the West tightened restrictions last year on the Gaza Strip in an attempt to isolate Hamas after its fighters seized the territory. The Islamist group opposed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' peace talks with Israel.

Palestinian ambassador Mohammad Abu-Koash said Tutu's report should be brought to the attention of both the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

"The Israeli shelling of civilians in Beit Hanun while asleep in their homes and targeting of those fleeing is a war crime and its perpetrators must be brought before international justice," he said in a speech.





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