Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Differing dreams

This letter appears in the Jerusalem Post today, 14 August 2012

I know, I suspect you know, and Martin Sherman certainly knows, that the ultimate dream of Palestinian leaders, “moderate” and extremist alike, is an Israel-free Middle East (“The alchemy of Palestinian nationhood” Into the Fray August 10). As he points out, there is no secret about it. In paying lip-service to the two-state solution, and even perhaps working towards it, any Palestinian leader would still have his eye on the eventual goal.

But then, as Sherman does not point out, much of the liberal Western world believes that many Israeli politicians, and perhaps up to 50 per cent of the Israeli public, dream of a Greater Israel which incorporates the whole of Judea and Samaria − and perhaps chunks of Lebanon and Jordan, to boot − within its boundaries.

Sherman asks why Israel’s leadership has been unable to expose the two state solution as a flimsy falsehood. He does not ask why the members of the Quartet (the UN, the US, the EU and Russia), both individually and collectively, endorse it, nor why much of the rest of the Western world goes along with it as well. The fact of the matter is that, no matter how deviously attained, the case for a sovereign Palestinian state has been made, as far as the majority of liberal opinion is concerned.

Politics is a hand-to-mouth kind of business. Ultimate objectives are rarely attainable, let alone attained. Whatever the differing dreams of the principals in peace negotiations might be, the achievement of an agreement would create such a totally new situation that all bets about the possible future would be off. Provided sufficient safeguards were built into the terms of the accord, a two-state solution might indeed provide Israelis and Palestinians with the peace, and the chance to live normal lives, that both sides in the dispute crave.

Neville Teller

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