Yossi Melman at PostGlobal

Yossi Melman

Tel Aviv, Israel

Yossi Melman is a senior commentator for the Israeli daily Haaretz. He specializes in intelligence, security, terrorism and strategic issues. An author of seven books on these topics, his most recent book, The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran was published recently by Carroll & Graf. Close.

Yossi Melman

Tel Aviv, Israel

Yossi Melman is a senior commentator for the Israeli daily Haaretz. He specializes in intelligence, security, terrorism and strategic issues. An author of seven books on these topics, his most recent book, The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran was published recently by Carroll & Graf. more »

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Too Many Visions, Too Little Will

Since the modern birth of the state of Israel following the 1947 UN Partition Resolution, which was rejected by the Arab states and the leaders of the Palestinian community, and especially since the 1967 war, two major ideas defined in two sharp phrases have dominated the Arab-Israeli (and international) public discourse. The difference: one state or two.

One was the idea of one state for two peoples -- the Jews and Arabs who live in the disputed land. This notion originated in two opposite schools of thought. One was the small liberal Jewish movement which believed in a solution of a bi-national state and whose supporters were philosophers like Martin Buaber and Yehuda Leib Magnes, president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The other source for that same notion of one state was the PLO with its desire to establish a Palestinian "secular democratic state" ruled by the Palestinians but respecting the rights of the Jewish minority. The PLO dream was to replace Israel and its Zionist character with the Palestinian state. As a mirror image of this PLO thinking, one can add the belief of right wing Israelis in "Greater Israel" to be ruled by the Jewish majority while providing basic rights to the Palestinian minority.

The second idea, which basically embraced the original UN Partition Resolution, has been the talk of two states -- Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security -- for two peoples (Israelis and Palestinians).

The terrible scenes emerging from Gaza -- cruelty, barbarism, carnage and massacres directed against political opponents, who until recently referred to each other as “brothers,” and against civilians including women and children -- are unfortunately creating a third notion: two states for one people -- the Palestinian people. One Palestinian state already exists in Gaza. This Hamastan, a theocracy ruled by a mixture of religious authorities supported by armed militias and gangs is based on the Iranian model. The second Palestinian state will be in the West Bank ruled by the PLO and would share more democratic values.

Who is to be blamed for the newly emerging reality? Everyone.

First of all, of course, Hamas, which refuses to recognize the right of Israel to exist and the right of the Jewish people to self determination and is collaborating with Iran. One has to face reality. What we are seeing in Gaza is the true nature of Hamas. It is not because of Israeli occupation (Gaza is no longer occupied). Don't blame Israeli colonialism or Western imperialism. What is happening is the result of a self-made Palestinian tradition.

Second, successive Israeli governments that allowed Jewish settlers to colonize Palestinian areas in the West Bank and Gaza are also to be blamed. These are Israeli governments which have shown their shortsightedness by disillusioning themselves that “time is on our side” and by employing divide-and-rule tactics. Thus they allowed Hamas in the 1980s to be established and initially turned a blind eye toward its success in consolidating power, with the hope that the Islamic fundamentalist movement would weaken the PLO.

Third, the PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, who was never seriously committed to his promise from 1994 after the “Oslo Accords” to end the “armed struggle.” Arafat had neither intention nor genuine interest in building a true Palestinian state. He was in love of his own caricature as a revolutionary commander. It was Arafat who allowed the military wing -- a bunch of blood thirsty terrorists and suicide bombers -- of Hamas to prosper using it as a whip against Israel. But above all Arafat will be remembered in history as a national leader who left behind him no plan, no strategy, no heir, no direction, only scorched land and one big state of chaos which is the main source for today's mess.

Fourth, U.S. administrations including those who were very committed to pursuing peace, like the Clinton administration which sincerely sought to reach a comprehensive solution but lacked the will to impose it on both sides.

What should be done? A quick and serious response from the Arab world and the international community to tame all sides, especially Hamas, and force them to agree to the very basic solution which remains so well known and defined. This is the idea of two states for two peoples -- Israelis and Palestinians. This means recognition of Israel, the end of occupation, security, recognized borders, the end of terrorism, division of Jerusalem and a symbolic agreement on the refuge problem.

Will it be done? No. as we see from other conflicts and world disasters -- Darfur, Kashmir or Nuclear Iran -- the international community has neither the will nor the determination to impose law and order and tranquility on this planet. So, what will happen? More of the same.

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