Sunday, 4 December 2016

Arab-Israel conflict was avoidable

My letter published today in the South China Morning Post. 
Letters to the Editor, December 3, 2016: Arab-Israel conflict was avoidable.
Arab-Israel conflict was avoidable
Alon Ben-Meir urges US president-elect Donald Trump to “pressure Israel” to agree to a two-state solution (“Trump must try to get Israel’s acceptance of a two-state ­solution”, November 19).
There is little to indicate that, as president, Trump will want to tread into a dispute that has been the graveyard of hopes for 70 years.
As Ben-Meir himself notes, even outgoing US President Barack Obama has failed in the endeavour, despite “supreme efforts”.
But even if Trump were to wade into these murky waters, why is it that only Israel should be pressured?
After all, Israel has repeatedly accepted a two-state solution over the last 70 years, whereas various ­iterations of Palestine have rebuffed all solutions.
On September 1, 1947, the UN Special Committee on ­Palestine issued a report ­proposing a split of the Palestinian Mandate along lines similar to those pursued by Palestinians today.
The Jewish Agency accepted the proposal. The Arab Higher Committee rejected it.
Just imagine if the Arabs had accepted the proposal. We would have had none of the murderous mayhem of the last 70 years.
Instead of destruction, there would have been construction.
Israel has 82 companies listed on the Nasdaq, more than all countries except the US and China. Imagine if this Israeli entrepreneurial spirit had been harnessed with that of the Palestinians. They would today be the mega-Switzerland of the Middle East.
They could by now have developed an Israeli-Arab-Palestinian common market, perhaps even a federation.
Instead, we have had attacks on Israel (all unsuccessful), ­belligerent intifadas (mostly unsuccessful), and the ­infamous “Three Nos” – no peace with ­Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel.
How is one to negotiate with such intransigent ­interlocutors? And yet it’s Israel which must be “pressured”? There’s a great deal of hypocrisy among the ­observers of the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay