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If asked what your position is on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the safest answer you can give is that you support a two state solution. I think there are no political parties in the Netherlands and no serious newspapers or journalists who plainly say that all the land should be either Palestinian or Israeli. Of course there are exceptions, but they are on the far left and also in some Arab circles, advocating that 'Israel should be one secular state for all its inhabitants, from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea'. At the other end of the spectrum there is Christians for Israel and Likud Netherlands, who say that Jordan is already a Palestinian state as it has a majority of Palestinians and was lobbed of from the original British Mandate in 1922.


The devil is in the details as usual. There are quite a few people who advocate a two state solution, but say that Israel as a Jewish state is racist, as it is exclusive, based on the superiority of the Jews, Jewish religious law and it is unfair that Jews have a right to return to a country where they didn't live for over 2000 years, while Palestinians who lived there until 1948 are denied this right. Even more people say that Israel is blocking peace and preventing a two state solution, and were it not for those greedy Zionists, there could have been peace a long time ago. This statement is often accompanied by a long list of what Israel should do (withdraw to 1967 borders, take down the "Apartheid Wall," free all Palestinian prisoners, stop discrimination against Israeli Arabs, and mostly also acceptance of the 'right of return' of millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants). I don't call such people advocates of a two state solution, and I think that, if what they want would be carried out, Israel would get into major problems and probably become a state with an Arab majority soon, in which case we should not call it 'Israel' any longer. Please let's not fool ourselves and each other.

"That is true for the other side as well", I hear critics say. "Israeli sympathizers like you say they support a two state solution, but only on Israeli terms, and in fact they offer the Palestinians Bantustans, big open air prisons where they are not free to move in or out and have no land to develop their own agriculture or industry."

I personally don't think the above a desirable solution, and the same is true for a lot of Israeli's. But it is undoubtedly true that some Israelis' talk about peace and mean Palestinian surrender. Therefore I propose that we define clearly what peace and a two state solution mean, and that people who don't agree to that stop saying they advocate peace or a two state solution.

I propose the following:

A two state solution means Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, and as a sovereign state, it has the right to determine who can become a citizen and under what conditions, just as the Netherlands defines who can be a citizen and who not. We have decided for example that everybody from Surinam can be a citizen automatically, but people from Venezuela or Brazil cannot. This has to do with our historical ties to Surinam, and nobody calls the Netherlands racist for that reason. In the same way, Israel has the right to grant every Jew citizenship automatically, because it defines itself as the national home of the Jews. Palestine will be the national home of the Palestinian people and it is free to determine who gets citizenship under what conditions. The Palestinian state should be contiguous and people should be free to move from the West Bank to the Gaza strip. This means that most settlements should be removed. Also, it should be free to import and export goods and not be dependent on Israeli border control. As Israel will not like a hostile state on its doorstep that imports all kinds of weapons, this is only possible after the Palestinians genuinely have accepted Israel's right to exist, and the Palestinians have dismantled the terrorist factions and keep a monopoly on the use of violence, as normal states do. Probably the Palestinian state will be demilitarized until a stable government exists and the desire to 'liberate all of Palestine' has really faded away. There will be a kind of joint or international control of the borders. The Geneva Accord is quite detailed about things like this.
One might differ about the exact details and borders, but the essence is clear and will be something like the
Taba proposal or the Geneva Accord.

Peace means that both sides cease violence against each other, in words and in deeds. It means no more incitement and hate speech against each other, as especially happens in
the Arab world against Jews and Israel.
One has the right to defend himself, as is normal between states that are not at war, but not to murder civilians deliberately or attack the territory of the other state. Peace means acknowledging the right of the other to exist and to live and to be free like oneself. Peace means accepting that one cannot get 100% of one's own rights and wishes because that contradicts the rights and legitimate grievances of the other. Peace means being willing to compromise.
Beware of people who want a 'just peace', and don't want to compromise on 'their rights'. It is not possible. It always means they want the other side to surrender.

Ratna Pelle


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