First of all, here are two interesting/relevant texts to further blur/clarify/blur your opinions...
Poll: 70% of Israelis say Israel should accept U.N. decision
Obama's speech at the U.N.; Full Video plus text re Palestinian vote
Those are just two randoms (that are not so random) from today that added to my thoughts, that are only somewhat coherent. Furthermore, you can find plenty of articles fleshing out all of these points and
more better than I did just now; I doubt I am saying anything new, but since several people have asked me for my opinion here goes...
1) I want to see a two state solution become a reality. I certainly do not think that the current Israeli government has done a good job showing that it is interested in a two state solution.
2) I do not want a failed Palestinian State.
3) A U.N.G.A. vote will not bring about a Palestinian state in reality. Any/every Palestinian who does not already know this will realize it the next morning when s/he wakes up and there are still checkpoints.
4) Think to yourself what you would want in a successful, recognized state in the international arena (functioning government, functioning economy, economy that is not almost totally dependent on foreign aid, the ability to have order within borders aka a functioning police/security force, and basic provisions for things like health and education, and whatever else might come to your mind), and then research whether the Palestinian Authority can/does provide these things for its people. I can honestly say that I only believe they have accomplished a functional security force (trained by U.S. General Dayton, and cooperative with the IDF), as well as a 9% GDP growth it can boast as a legitimate sign of economic growth. With the caveat that at this point everything still hinges on aid; and should U.S. or Israeli or other foreign aid cease, the PA would collapse rather quickly, a bad thing!
5) Tangible questions: Where will Palestine's capital be? More generally, what does a Palestinian state look like? Only the West Bank? Where does the Gaza Strip fit in to this picture? Where is Hamas?
6) Is the Palestinian Authority (or the Palestinian people for that matter) willing to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state? All statements thus far have been resolutely no.
7) Finally, most importantly, where is the detailed plan of what an actual Palestine will look like post the vote? Something that answers all of the above questions? I've seen nothing specific.
What does this mean to me? It means that I am absolutely empathetic to Palestinian nationalist aspirations. As a Zionist (that is to say, a Jewish nationalist), I appreciate other peoples' wills to have a country of their own -- so long as it does not seek to delegitimize my right to exist (in words) or physically try to remove my place in this world (through terror and war). Hence, I want nothing more than to have an end to all fighting and bloodshed and live peacefully next to my Palestinian neighbors. BUT, I know very well that going to the U.N. this week does not help accomplish anything short term in terms of palpable changes on the ground for the Palestinian people. And here is where I am really conflicted.
On the one hand, I truly believe that the only way to solve this is through direct negotiations between the two countries (possibly with an agreed upon 3rd party mediator), complete with set rules of conduct that go along with negotiations. This is the best way to solve the final status issues (Jerusalem, Right of Return, Water, Borders) that have prevented peace to this point. Going to the United Nations and applying for statehood without solving these issues through negotiations with Israel means that in reality there will still be no Palestinian state because none of the questions posed above will be able to be satisfactorily answered and solved. If the U.N.G.A. does vote a symbolic state into being, should Israel accept the voice of the world? Yes, sure, but nothing changes without negotiations... On the other hand, the current government in Israel has done a pretty deplorable job at showing interest in a negotiated two state solution. In my opinion there is simply no reason to be building in land that will be part of a Palestinian state and no excuse to not have every settlement deemed illegal by Israeli law dismantled. In other words, the government has either been cowed by a zealous minority that has no regard for Israeli law or civility or actually tacitly condones settlement extremism. Either option is scary. [An argument can thus be made that the PA has no faith in the current Israeli government to negotiate and is seeking an alternate path instead. And an argument can be made that there are intractable differences between the Israeli and Palestinian governments as long as the Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as the undisputed homeland of all Jews and thus Israel sees no reason to make any moves.]
So in a nutshell, I believe that there must be a change in the Israeli government, with the new one reflecting the fact that 70% of Israelis do want to see that Palestinian state. If we're being honest, Bibi and Lierberman have spent two years fighting with each other to prove who can be more hawkish. They have not helped bring peace. In the meantime, it would be well worth the Palestinian Authority's time to continue on its path of statebuilding by continuing to build the infrastructure of a functional country. It should actually model itself after the Zionist Yishuv model of the Turkish and then British Mandate era, where the Jewish pre-state government spent some 40+ years building up its state infrastructure (hospitals, universities, courts, etc.) in preparation for independence and sovereignty. It should continue to work on economic development independent of foreign aid. It should focus on how it can convince its enemies in Gaza (read: Hamas) to put down their weapons and learn to accept Israel as a reality. And finally and quite importantly, it should think deeply and carefully about the concept of Israel as a Jewish state and internalize that it is a reality that will not change. Either way one looks at it, this must be a two sided street.
Unfortunately for all parties involved, going to the U.N. this week in no way helps bring about an end to this conflict.
Ok. Questions? Comments? Thoughts? Disagreements? Please post!
My opinions are also quite malleable and I am always learning from your input!
Getting up in 5 hours for advanced Hebrew,