FM: John Whitbeck
In the opinion article transmitted below, retired American
super-diplomat Ronald Spiers (Ambassador to Turkey and Pakistan,
Undersecretary of State and Undersecretary-General of the United
Nations) joins the fast-spreading heresy and dares to advocate democracy
as the way to bring peace to Palestine/Israel.
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Article published Dec 13, 2007
*Another way in the Mideast*
For over half a century diplomats and statesmen have been trying to move
the Palestinians and Israelis toward a "two-state" solution.
The U.S. initially accepted the 1948 U.N. General Assembly majority plan
that proposed this answer to the conundrum of Palestine after the
British gave up their mandate over the territory. The Arabs accepted
neither this nor the minority plan which recommended a single state with
separate Swiss-like cantons for Arabs and Jews. The Jews proceeded to
declare an independent state of Israel without explicitly accepting the
borders proposed in the U.N. majority plan. The Arab inhabitants
rejected both versions and resisted any division of Palestine.
The rest has been a persistent conflict between the two communities,
with periodic attempts at reconciliation, as at Camp David, Wye, Madrid,
Oslo, Taba and, last month, Annapolis — all unsuccessful at making any
lasting progress or averting repeated eruptions of violence.
November's Annapolis conference has come and gone, producing only an
agreement to keep on talking about the "two-state" solution without
closing any of the gaps on the so-called "core" issues: borders,
settlements, Jerusalem, water rights. The Israelis resisted any
reference to these issues and the Palestinians were unable to get those
that concern them even mentioned in the final statement. The only
concrete action was in endorsing Tony Blair's charge to help Palestinian
institutions prepare for statehood, and Gen. Jim Jones' charge to
monitor and judge the PLO effectiveness in reigning in violence from the
occupied territories and Israel's fulfillment of promises to freeze
The whole Annapolis operation has been greeted by many with cynicism and
even ridicule, but no one is prepared to throw in the cards on the
"peace process" that many consider all "process" and no peace. Two weak
leaderships continue unable to produce a consensus among their
populations that will support the needed compromises for peace. The
Quartet has, so far, been unable or unwilling to present a position of
its own on the "core" issues and to press the parties to accept it.
The Palestinians think that the Israelis' vision of a Palestinian
"state" is a phantom sovereignty of a collection of "Bantustan"
reservations surrounded by Israeli settlements that will essentially
control movement and resources. The Israelis, suspicious that the
Palestinians will never be ready to accept a genuine peace with Israel,
continue to encroach on occupied territory, exacerbating Palestinian
support for violence. Things get progressively worse.
The time may now have passed when a viable two-state solution is
possible. If this is the case, the international community should
advocate creation of a single state, democratic and universally
recognized, with equal rights for all of its citizens, Jew, Christian or
Muslim, following the pattern of all true democracies. Diverse racial,
national and religious groups live in peace together today in the United
States, in the European Union and, most recently, in South Africa. And,
after all, this is what the Bush administration purports to seek for the
There is no genuine reason this vision could not inspire hope in the
Holy Land and around the world.