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May 16, 2012

Vol. 112, No. 12

The quest for Mideast peace

In response to: Is an Israel-Palestine peace deal still ­possible? Dan Kurtzer says yes

Published on May 16, 2012

PAW’s story on Professor Dan Kurtzer profiles a reasonable man and expert diplomat. His proposed Israel-Palestine peace plan, though, reads like more “deal” than “peace.” A diplomat/politician’s “art of the possible” sets the bar too low: It’s peace without justice; righting no wrongs, providing no equitable remedy, no restitution, no restoring of victims’ rights.

Kurtzer “insists his only bias is toward U.S. foreign-policy interests,” but these are only interests of the most powerful: Realpolitik can favor only ultramilitarized Israel, the illegal land-grabber and occupier, not virtually defenseless Palestine.

Palestine is to make “major concessions.” What to concede? Palestine sought independence from the League of Nations in 1919; almost a century later, it’s completely Israeli-occupied but for tiny blockaded Gaza, termed “the world’s largest open-air prison.”

What peace is possible? The U.S.-favored “two-state solution” is as dead as the U.N.’s 1947 partition, both killed by Israeli intransigence and expansion. Division and partition haven’t worked well: The Confederacy, Britain’s Irish “home rule,” South Africa’s “homelands,” divided Germany, India, Vietnam, Korea — all fueled more conflict.

The most formidable issue dividing Israel from the rest of the world is the “Jewish state,” on its face preferential and exclusionary. Restorative justice for Palestinians requires equal rights, achievable only by a unified, bi-national Israel/Palestine with no ethnic/religious basis. A democratic secular state can resolve competing claims through political means: Liberal Palestinian votes would be sought by progressive Israelis, and vice versa. The grim alternative for Israel: further ­isolation, virtual apartheid, boycotts, sanctions.

Peace and lasting reconciliation can follow only from negotiations aimed at democracy for all, not nonsubstantive border-tinkering. Difficult? Certainly. Impossible, no.

San Francisco, Calif.

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