Palestinian Violence will not deliver Peace

Malcolm X once told black Americans, “You didn’t land on Plymouth Rock; Plymouth Rock landed on you!”
Millions of people from the developing world have risked their lives to get to the west, while the Palestinians had the western world come to them, in the form of Israel. But where this should have been an opportunity, it was more like a great big rock landing on them. They were simply unable to cope.

The photo above shows the author of this article, in 1986, with one foot in Israel and one foot in Egypt. My anxiety is due to the barbed wire getting caught on my T-shirt. Back then there was no border on the west Bank, never mind a wall. Palestinians were free to come and go across Israel. They worked, they travelled, they engaged in politics. There was violence, but there was also optimism. Then came the suicide bombers.
The word “solution” in the phrase “Two-State-Solution” is quite misleading. It suggests that the problems will end if property and land rights are settled. It doesn’t promise to create jobs or prosperity to the Palestinians, but it does promise to end any further justification for Palestinian violence.
It was a top-down policy, insisted on by the international community. It created trepidation in the West Bank, with graffiti appearing on walls calling for a One-State-Solution. The Palestinians want jobs, but the “solution” seems to promise a permanent partition, with a permanent separation wall. Washington’s policy was never born from reading the writing on the wall.
Where ever I went in Israel, in the 80s, the building sites were full of Arabs. I asked an Israeli if this was somehow racist. He told me that Israelis wanted to get into construction, but the Palestinians wouldn’t let them in. Today, construction workers are imported from Asia, while the technology companies adopt restricted employment policies for “security reasons”. The Israeli economy is being denied to the “ungrateful” Palestinians.
There are still some jobs for Palestinians, but there are also check points which stop them getting to work. A low-ranking soldier can order a check point erected, but only a high ranking soldier can have it removed. This isn’t a conspiracy, it’s just the way that people watch their backs.
Mr Blair understood the need for jobs. As envoy to the Middle-East he pushed the Israelis to pass laws to create economic zones between the West Bank and Israel. The laws were passed but nothing was ever implemented; there simply isn’t the will.
People who used to be left-wingers say, “It’s time for us to worry about ourselves now”, and that’s the most telling quote. To the Israelis, the suburbs to the east of Jerusalem aren’t about politics, they’re just about commuters. People just want to get home in time to put the kids to bed, and to watch their favourite show on TV. The peace process missed an opportunity by failing to trade the removal of the barriers in return for the construction of these suburbs.
The settlements which are far more offensive are the ones along the Jordanian border, placed there following the ’67 war, as a claim to territory and as a defensive shield, but now needing armoured roads across the West Bank to supply them. The fear of invasion by Jordan is now so remote that the justification no longer exists.
There are also ancient Jewish settlements. They’ve been around as long as the Palestinians. Do they have no right to be there by virtue of their race? This makes a difficult question.
And there are the former residents of Gaza who buy a hilltop and turn up in their caravans claiming to be directed by God. If the army knocks down their settlement, they pop up again the next day.
The Palestinians refer to 1967 as “The Disaster”. An economist would say that it was the best thing that ever happened to them. The disaster was Yasser Arafat, and later, Hamas. They’re the ones who believed there was a solution to be found through murder, violence and terror. But you can’t win a political argument through violence.
Only through building an economy will the Palestinians find peace and autonomy and the One-State-Solution is best way to build an economy. The Palestinians want their jobs back, more than wanting politicians to represent them in their hunger. Politics must follow economics not the other way around.
The Palestinians have learnt that tribal bloodshed does not deliver happiness. Getting back to 1967 and getting it right this time, is the best way of getting back to peace.

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