Janet Kira Lessin


Letters | On Israel and Gaza

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The Future of Gaza Project

There is little doubt that a long-term strategy from Israel for peace with the Palestinians is long overdue (“Israel’s agony”, October 14th). One attractive and practical framework would be to prepare a study similar to the one America’s State Department produced in 2002 called “The Future Of Iraq Project”. The general objective of that study, which involved many Iraqi exiles and agencies, was to plan for the post-Saddam transition in Iraq. It was meticulously prepared, and ran to 13 volumes, but unfortunately it was not implemented. America instead went for a quick solution to remove Saddam Hussein after the invasion in 2003, and we all know the consequences of that. The “Future Of Iraq Project” was declassified in 2006.

Hamas must be annihilated. Then what? The billions of dollars that Iran and others give to Hamas could be redirected to resettle the 2m people currently in Gaza to the West Bank. A council, comprising Palestinians, Jordanians, Israelis, Saudis and Americans, could oversee this process. Make it clear that this is to establish a foundation on which an independent Palestinian state can be built. Building the state will require massive funding from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, as well as North American and European donors, and from the Palestinian diaspora. Growing local prosperity will diminish the need for international aid.

Hebron could become a city of 3m people and one of the most beautiful and prosperous places in the world. Israel, Palestine and Jordan could at last come together to form a close-knit Tri-State Alliance; a beacon of peace and prosperity to inspire all the people of the Middle East. In the distant future Gaza might rise again as a metropolitan region, perhaps an international trade hub of the Tri-State Alliance. At that point, whether it is an Israeli or Palestinian district will make little difference.This is possible. America, victorious in the Second World War, turned its bitter foes into trusted friends and allies in less than a generation. Let us now assist Israel to do the same.

Achieve victory over terrorists, and then turn feared foes into trusted friends, all in less than a generation. The people of Gaza have for a long while been used as pawns by Hamas in its war against Israel. Hospitals and schools are used to store weapons and rockets and civilians are used as human shields. Hamas’s rhetoric about being concerned about the residents of Gaza is as empty as that from Vladimir Putin about concern for civilians in Ukraine.Gaza has a great disparity between rich and poor. Yet Hamas has profited from money donated by the European Union for economic assistance for social purposes, siphoning it off for its leadership and to buy weapons. While speaking peace, Hamas planned for war. Its financial providers, including the eu, are culpable.

Shlomo Brom, a former deputy to Israel’s national security adviser, was misguided in his criticisms of the approach taken by successive Israeli governments towards the Palestinians (By Invitation, October 10th). Everyone except extremists would welcome a two-state solution. Yet historically, Arabs were presented with opportunities to establish a sovereign state in 1948 and on several subsequent occasions. Regrettably, at each time, the offers were declined and violence became the prevailing response. The reality of a two-state solution hinges on a crucial change in Palestinian policy, one that shifts away from pursuing the complete annihilation of Israel. This transformation can only happen once Hamas, unwavering in its mission to destroy Israel, no longer governs Gaza.

Indeed, any potential Palestinian state would have to undergo demilitarisation. Without this you would have a situation where Palestinians could still fire rockets at Israeli neighbourhoods just a few miles away. One possible resolution would be a reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Israel through the Abraham accords, which might open the door for the Saudis to offer financial support and contribute to peacekeeping within this new state.

john kemplerSydney

Mr Brom mentioned how Binyamin Netanyahu declared his acceptance of a Palestinian state in 2009 with conditions. But the Israeli prime minister then abandoned the political process, made it clear that he opposed the establishment of such a state and used a divide-and-conquer strategy to weaken the Palestinian government in the West Bank, which strengthened Hamas’s power in Gaza. Are the Israelis better off under Mr Netanyahu’s approach? Will the situation for Israelis be improved a year from now? Unfortunately, I believe that just as Palestinian civilians will suffer, so too will Israelis. After this war, instead of achieving lasting peace and security Israel may have inspired a whole new generation of Hamas fighters.

bikram singh balToronto

Israel could absorb Gaza and give Gazans full Israeli citizenship and civil rights. This would satisfy the right and the left. In 2017 the then president of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, who is on the right, gave cautious support to full annexation of the West Bank, so long as it included full citizenship rights for Palestinians. “Applying sovereignty to an area gives citizenship to all living there,” he said.

“There are no separate laws for Israelis and for non-Israelis.” Mr Rivlin has dismissed concerns that Israel’s Jewish character would be compromised by absorbing several million Palestinians.Activists on the left advance the argument that the current situation is just one big apartheid state, and Palestinians should thus be recognized as citizens. Although the right and the left have different motivations and frames of reference, their assessment of the situation and its possibilities are surprisingly close.

Sonja TraussOakland, California

The consensus is that a two-state solution offers the best prospect for peace, but how about offering Palestinians who wish to settle abroad the chance to do so? After the war in Vietnam, 2m people were resettled in other countries. Most people acknowledge the need for a Jewish homeland in Israel. But this has created 5m refugees. The world owes the Palestinians. What are we collectively going to do about them?

ed dunnettQualicum Beach, Canada

In relation to innocent Palestinians suffering in Gaza, no single country in the region or nearby Europe has come forward with an offer to take in refugees. Egypt’s argument that the refugees will be a burden on its economy does not wash. Morally, the humanitarian crisis is more urgent. And America and other rich countries would step in to help Egypt with funding and aid supplies if it showed some compassion. Egypt’s cold shoulder to the Palestinians, and the lack of interest in taking refugees from other mainly Muslim countries, is a stark contrast to the solidarity shown by European countries to Ukrainians. Neighboring Poland took over a million.

paz (last name withheld)London

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