Friday, March 12, 2010

Refugees and Israeli-Palestinian Peace - a solution?

Michael Steinhardt is a wealthy philanthropist. When he speaks, people tend to listen. Did he go too far in today's Wall Street Journal?

"Over the past decade a great illusion has taken hold of three successive American administrations. The illusion is that the path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians will come through negotiating the fate of West Bank settlements.

But settlements are no longer the real issue that separates Israel and the Palestinians. The real issue is refugees."

Steinhardt then proceeds to layout his idea of a settlement:

First, a coalition of the usual Western powers plus China, Russia and affluent Arab countries would create a fund of $75- $100 billion. "The money would be used to create new communities within Gaza, the West Bank and elsewhere, and to help educate and employ the refugee populace. "

Second, homes for the refugees outside of the borders of the West Bank and Gaza. Israel will be pressed to take some, too, on a family reunification basis, and apologize for its role in the creation of the refugee situation [does he mean those towns where residents were forced to leave by Israeli forces as opposed to Arab forces?] Islamic nations would be asked to open their doors, too.

I believe that a "settlement" of issues usually leaves both sides partially unhappy with the result. Steinhardt concludes:

But all the former refugees would have the best the world as a whole can offer: A range of possibilities for these millions to stop living in squalor and start living a decent, dignified life with opportunity and hope.

Only the Palestinians will be able to say whether this is good enough. If it is, peace is truly possible. If it isn't, we will know that, too. And at least we will know that we tried.

What do you think?

Read the full article here.

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