Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Israel-Palestine Impasse: A Proposed Solution by Edwin L. Young

The Israel-Palestine Impasse: A Proposed Solution
by Edwin L. Young, PhD

It seems that there is a lose-lose situation with respect to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Yet, it seems, there seems to be something approaching unanimous agreement that some very strong intervention is necessary immediately. May I humbly make a suggestion?

Suppose the Arab League formulated a plan, with, possibly, Egypt taking the lead, to form a peacekeeping contingent to intervene in the conflict region. Suppose the plan proposed that Egypt attempt to get as many of the other countries as possible to join this peacekeeping effort. For example, our Secretary of State, or the Secretary General of the United Nations, could request that, in addition to the nations in the Arab League, the US, Russia, the EU, and even Japan, China, and Indian, and any other sympathetic country join the effort. Such a large and consensual representation could insert itself between all of the Middle Eastern Countries parties in conflict, especially Israel and Palestine. The parties in conflict should include Israel, the Palestinians, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Al Aqsa Intifada, al Qaeda, and any group in the region actively involved in aggression and acts of violence toward either Israel or Palestine. In this case, the Arab League could be assuming a role in the Middle Eastern world that is similar to NATO's in the Eastern Europe conflicts. This larger coalition would be enunciating a consensus that the blame game is not relevant, is over, no one is listening, and the only thing that matters is the end of the conflict and beginning of a formulation of a settlement. Recognizing that the Israelis and the Palestinians are never going to arrive at terms they can both agree to, this intervention would have to be very forceful and simply and unequivocally lay down the terms for a solution.

The problems the Palestinians have for survival and prosperity would have to be addressed. Something like a Marshall Plan could be formulated. The need for access to potable water, which will become even worse as time goes on, must be addressed. While a de-salinization solution has been thought to be too costly in the past, I suspect that, if world conflict were at stake, the engineers of the world could come up with a cost effect technique to secure potable water for the Palestinians. An additional and essential benefit would be a drastic reduction in the financial and human life costs to both states and to the entire world.

There is the crucial loggerheaded dispute between the Israelis vs. the Palestinians over the Israeli maze-like settlements scattered like flesh maiming glass shards throughout the Palestinian territory's impoverished neighborhoods. All of the world leaders know and will not publicly admit that the Israelis are committed to the end of time to expropriate the entire Palestinian territory so as to assimilate it into their state and make it an indissoluble part of their Homeland (their fabled Biblical Promise Land). On the other hand, the Palestinian's demand for reoccupation of their stolen homes and territory also seems to be an insoluble issue.

To solve these problems, the above noted world leaders will have to think outside the box. Here is a suggestion. Suppose, this problem were to be settled for the two parties by designating a least-populated-area of an number of square miles equivalent to what they occupy now plus what the Israeli's stole from them. This territory could extend from the West Bank to the Sea. Perhaps it could be from the northeast corner of the West Bank, and extend as a narrow strip along the borders of Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon to the Sea and include the Golan Heights as well. In addition, the Palestinians could give up, and I doubt with much regret, the Gaza Strip, civilization's own little version of smoldering Gehenna or hell. Thus, Palestine would be geographically united and Israel would have a long Sea front and would no longer have to be concerned with the disputed Golan Heights. The dislocated Palestinians could be relocated to a new Palestine. To their commercial advantage, they would be inhabiting a strip from northern Palestine to the shore which would grant them a port for merchant ships and trade.

If such a Marshall Plan were to include, not only rebuilding some old and building new Palestinian cities, but also constructing and developing homes, communities, and industrial developments along the strip to the Sea and adjoined to Lebanon and Syria as well as Israel. This would provide Palestine with water, a Sea Port for world trade, borders with four countries for trade, and living conditions commensurate with what they formerly had had. This would free the Palestinians from economic dependence on Israel and Israel's exploitation of them for labor. Each side would be giving up something, but perhaps nothing is worth never having any prospects for peace and security between the two of them and peace for the entire Middle East and even the rest of the world. The settlers could remain. They and the rest of the Israelis would know peace and security, while the displaced Palestinians would have a stretch of real estate that would be their own, would be Palestine as a nation among nations. It should be very valuable to them and therefore worth the exchange. Finally, the lands of the Gaza Strip and Golan Heights would be exchanged for their new Homeland. All of the tattered threads of the ancient dispute would be rewoven into a new tapestry.

However, this still leaves unsolved the tripartite, deeply rooted, divisive, hallowed-ground dispute over who has jurisdiction over the city of Jerusalem. Solution to the rivalry over this small, sacrosanct, archaic plot of earth doubtless would require some highly delicate and creative proposals and ingenious, statesmanlike maneuvering. One, perhaps unlikely, proposal could be that Jerusalem would be declared a District, like the District of Columbia or the Vatican See. Perhaps it could be declared an international treasure where all denominations of Jews, Muslims, and Christians could be scheduled by a joint authority to gather undisturbed to continue their religious practices and pilgrimages. Or, perhaps, it could be governed by a coalition of religious representatives as a testimony to each religion's commitment to a principle of mutual respect. However it might be it to negotiate, something like this plan could be a win-win solution for everyone.

Finally, the Arab League, in conjunction with Israel, could develop something like training programs for young people from all countries in the Middle East as future peacekeepers. Such groups already exist in inchoate form. Such programs could operate cells in all of the Arab League countries and Israel. What better counter ploy to Al Qaeda recruitment efforts could there be. These groups plausibly could be merged with the US Peace Corps as well as with their counterparts from England, the European Union, and Asiatic countries. As time goes on, every country in the world could participate. This could be an ideal replacement of the US-centric Peace Corps. Youth from all over could exchange knowledge of each other's cultures and gain international friendships. Hopefully, these groups would train all over the East and West and create a new sense of international understanding and unity.

Author bio:

Edwin is a 76 year old, retired, psychotherapist/institution reformer. His greatest satisfaction came from reforming many juvenile correctional institutions, a maximum security prison, a West Texas mental hospital, and the huge Job Corps in San Marcos, Texas. All in all there were thirteen institutions that he successfully reformed. In the last year of his PhD program, Edwin was one of the two PhD graduate students to be awarded the annual University Research Institute grant. His dissertation committee said his was the longest, best, and most complex in the history of the department. Since retiring, Edwin spends his time writing. His site is: The Natural Systems Institute.

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