May 22, 2011

President Obama Speaks to AIPAC

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was in a news story I saw while surfing channels earlier today. In particular, the coverage was of a talk President Barack Obama gave today to the AIPAC, a self described Pro-Israel lobbying group. President Obama spoke to an audience, defending his previous days press conference in which Mr. Obama before the cameras, made mention of returning to Pre-1967 Israel-Palestinian borders with mutual land swap agreements that would need to be worked out by those involved, as a starting point for moving peace plans forward between Palestinians and Israelis. Prime Minister Natanyahu forcefully disagreed with Mr. Obama's remarks calling the plan not possible and stating that a return to those borders would make his nation indefensible. In his talk to the AIPAC, Mr. Obama reiterated the "land swap" part of the deal he'd proposed, meant the 1967 borders were obviously going to be adjusted with any deal reached. The audience members applauded loudly as he spoke, and I thought about where I stood on the issue. That spurred me to jot some ideas down that turned into a couple pages. Might as well share them here for others to weight in on, and share their assessment, experiences, or opinion.

United States and Israel Disagree

Before going to in depth, I was not satisfied with the Israeli prime Minister saying the plan was not possible because the borders were "indefensible." I wanted him to elaborate on what this meant. Israel has one of the most highly advanced military's on earth, I find it hard to believe their borders would become indefensible if proper arrangements (agreed land-swaps) were incorporated into a plan that used the 1967 borders as a starting point. The world knows how important Israel is in these global times. Their system of government, all though far from perfect, does seem to address the needs of its own people. I commend that and find it honorable. What I see at times however is a stubborn hard stance on issues of peace on Israel's part that seem to prevent the process from moving forward. Continued building of settlements in East Jerusalem which is located in areas the Palestinians are calling for to be included in a future Palestinian state, I think speaks for itself. The Naval blockade into Gaza has done more damage to the Palestinian people, as lack of materials, jobs, capital, continues the hardships on the average citizen there. Israel in my opinion should not be surprised that Hamas and the Palestinian government have agreed to join forces and unite their governments. It surprises me that Egypt was the country that brokered this historic agreement between the two sides, but Egypt is undergoing a revolution, so the political landscape has changed. The Palestinians uniting however, was predictable in my mind. What Israel does not accept, is a government that is comprised of Hamas party members. To prove their point, Israel recently withheld tax money they collect on behalf of the Palestinian government in the sum of over $90 million dollars. This of course angered the government as Palestinians accused Israel of being obstructionist to progress and a lasting peace. Israel argued that Hamas does not accept their existence and has sworn in the past to Israel's destruction, therefor Israel cannot possibly negotiate with any government that includes Hamas. Below is a map of the Pre-1967 Israeli - Palestinian borders:

Where I see the point of both sides, I also believe both sides are preventing the peace process from moving forward. If a statehood for Palestinians is reached, then a lasting peace is suppose to be part of the agreement. In other words, the fighting it can be argued, is directly related to the lack of a current Palestinian State with recognized international statehood. I believe with such a state, that Israel would live with peace and security, not fearing rocket attacks or bombs against Israeli civilians. Palestinians and Arab nations in turn, would acknowledged what is a powerful, highly advanced, and important nation on earth, the country of Israel. If the Palestinians or Arab countries continued their illicit activities that includes targeting civilians with rockets or attacks, than the international community has to come in and say, wait, the Palestinian state was suppose to bring peace, and the fact its not, means the international community is compelled to act, using the international courts to bring justice to the enemies of peace.

What I think the real problem is, is that both sides don't really trust each other. The Israelis don't believe Hamas when they say attacks will stop, as Hamas actively pursue government positions and posts which provides it more resources and power, than currently held. It's possible in Israel's eyes that Hamas will always advocate its destruction whether publicly or privately, and has now adjusted and changed their tactics in order to accomplish these ends. The possibility Hamas is uniting their government, may be so they can get closer to Israeli cities in the future, and this may be a legitimate security risk for the Israeli government. The Palestinians on the other hand, see Israel as the aggressor, with much more sophisticated weaponry in their arsenals that they employ when hunting down Palestinian militants. Civilian deaths from these Israeli attacks also occur and cause deep pain and grief to Palestinian families that are touched by it, the same way Israeli families mourn the death of their innocent members at the hands of rocket attacks or suicide bombers. As both governments, militaries, strategists, and security apparatus of each side, continue to highly distrust one another, a foundation for peace will not be stable. I understand Israel is suspicious of Hamas and its intentions, but I also realize that establishing the country of Israel, meant displacing many who called the country "Palestine" and had made it their homes. Palestinians were forcefully removed from their homelands, and I can understand their dismay at what has occurred. Both sides have wronged each other, this to me is crystal clear. It's time to start acting like grown ups and work out their differences through peaceful dialogue and diplomacy. It is my belief, that the entire world, is counting on it. Israelis want security and recognition, and Palestinians want a life of dignity, respect, and self perseverance that has been non-existent in their societies since losing their Palestinian State in 1948 to the creation of Israel. It is obvious peace has to come with compromises from both sides. Here's a Times article on the current Israeli - Palestinian situation

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