Expelling Jews is not the roadmap to peace
The discussion about the future of the West Bank tends to be simplified. The discussion is usually about the settlers, and when Israel should withdraw. But the question is whether an Israeli withdrawal will lead to peace.
So far, the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon and Gaza resulted in more military conflicts. What happened when Israel withdrew from these territories was that these territories were taken over by forces that do not recognize Israel's existence. Hezbollah, in southern Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza, are characterized by a political culture and vision where the ultimate goal is to destroy Israel. The conflict that followed Israel's withdrawal took place because the retreat was seen as a sign of weakness and not as a peace initiative.
"Peace activists" might cheer when Israel withdraws from a territory, but they turn a blind eye when terrorists from the same territory start firing rockets at Israel. Through its retreats from Gaza and southern Lebanon, through their commitment to peace, Israel has created a war on two fronts where Israel's enemies are constantly getting supplies of weapons from Iran and other actors.
It is unclear whether Fatah, which rules the West Bank, effectively recognizes Israel's existence. 1993 the PLO recognized Israel's right to exist, but since then, several senior leaders in Fatah have said that they do not recognize Israel's right to exist while the maps of Palestine, as shown in the Palestinian Authority television, also includes Israel. Everything indicates that Fatah recognized Israel in 1993 to pick diplomatic points, while to the Palestinians mediating a completely different message. The Palestinian Authority television shows movies and series that demonizes Israelis while anti-Semitic views are widespread. An Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank would make Israel's current war on two fronts to a war on three fronts.
Given this crude anti-Semitism in the West Bank an Israeli withdrawal would mean a great danger to the more than 350,000 Jews (“settlers”) living in the West Bank. Although pro-Palestinian movements in the West, and specially Europe, have succeeded in convincing a lot of people that the Jews are strangers in the West Bank, the West Bank is the only home these people know. At least a third of the Jewish "settlers" in the West Bank have "settled" in the West Bank by being born in the West Bank. To deport 350,000 Jews from a territory just because they are Jews is nothing new, but after World War II, there was a hope that it would never happen again.
Unfortunately many people, for some strange reason, think that the expulsion of the Jews from the West Bank is the only path to peace. As if the expulsion of Jews would suddenly make the hatred against Israel and anti-Semitism, that exists within the Arab world, go away. The Palestinian Authority is busy spreading hatred against the Jewish settlers in their media institutions so they will not be able to guarantee the safety of the Jews if Israel withdraws from the West Bank. The international community has no good track record when it comes to protecting a Jewish population exposed to persecution and given that the media barely writes about rocket attacks against Israel, you can not rely on the international community to pay attention to the persecution of Jews in the West Bank.
The Palestinian leadership must mature and stop believing that the West should give them an ethnic homogeneous state where there are no Jews. Any Palestinian state must be democratic and multicultural, like Israel, where both Arabs and Jews live side by side. As long as the Palestinian Authority wants a judenfrei state they are not entitled to any state.
Instead of making these impossible demands on Israel the international community ought to make simple demands on the Palestinians. Before the Palestinians start talking about a state they should hold free elections, give women more rights, stop persecuting LGBT people and respect all religions, all the political "luxury" that Swedes and Israelis have.
Another myth is that the future status of Jerusalem would be an obstacle to peace. It's almost comical that Fatah, an organization that spreads anti-Semitism through its media, claims a city where the majority are Jews. Now, if you want a judenfrei Palestine, then it is contradictory to claim a city where Muslims since the late 19th century have been in the minority.
The odd solutions for peace discussed in the Israel-Palestine issue is not discussed in any other conflict. Although Kosovo was formed after a bloody and despicable war with Serbia the Serbs in Kosovo remain and have their own police force and courts. Despite the Kosovo Albanian nationalism it was no problem to keep Serbs in their country. Cyprus has already accepted that it is unrealistic that the 150,000 Turkish settlers who moved to the occupied northern Cyprus should move back to Turkey, if Turkey would end its occupation . It is only in the Israel-Palestine conflict, where the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Jews is the way to peace. The very idea that Jewish presence in the West Bank would be "illegal" is racist . It is ironic that the same political forces that in Swedish immigration debate scream that no human being is illegal, believe that the presence of Jews in the West Bank is illegal . This status as illegal human beings only applies to Jews in the West Bank. It's not often someone complains about illegal Turks in northern Cyprus or illegal Chinese in Tibet. If Palestinians can not imagine having Jewish settlers as neighbors, how can they ever live side by side with a Jewish nation?
Despite this, Israel has in practice given the Palestinians a country. Palestine has a central bank, government ministries, embassies, and the Palestinian security forces have more people serving than the entire Swedish police force. 90 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank live under Abbas undemocratic rule. The Israeli military presence in the West Bank is there to defend Israel against forces that want to destroy Israel, and the Palestinian Authority can not protect everyone living in the West Bank. In a territory where the president says that you can not be punished for killing Israeli Jews, the 350,000 settlers probably need some sort of protection. Although some political movements in the West have done everything to prove otherwise, the settlers in the West Bank are actually human beings and have the right to a secure environment.
Hatred of Israel will not disappear with an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. When Israel withdrew from Gaza and forced the settlers in Gaza to leave the area the hatred of Israel intensified and the "occupation" proceeded without any Israeli soldiers in the so-called "open air prison". What is required of the Palestinians for them to have a state is that they stop seeing themselves as victims all the time. Not everything is Israel's fault. The fact that the Palestinians voted for an Islamist and anti-Semitic party like Hamas caused problems as much as the German election of Adolf Hitler as chancellor was one of the main causes of World War II. If the Palestinians do not want to take responsibility and want to blame everything on Israel, even when Israel ends its military presence, then the Israelis may as well stay in the West Bank.
The great obstacle to peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is two Palestinian regimes in Gaza and the West Bank with no popular support and who remain in power because their media institutions blame all problems on Israel and Jewish settlers. None of these regimes have taken the basic responsibility that a future state should have taken. While Fatah's security forces are funded by the United States the Hamas security forces are one day financed by Iran and Syria and the other day by one of the Gulf states. Instead of seeking peace with Israel, the Palestinian leaders have let themselves become lackeys of regional powers such as Iran and Turkey, which challenge Israel. The road to peace starts with Palestinian leaders, who actually represent Palestinians, putting forward realistic demands that the Israelis have the ability to meet.
Nima Gholam Ali Pour (PPI)
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