Israel/Palestine Conflict May Lead to Regional War

January 9, 2009
Kamal Nawash

Surprise, surprise, once again the Palestinian/Israeli conflict spirals out of control. However, this particular battle has produced circumstantial evidence that the conflict has become more dangerous than ever before. Unless a permanent solution is found soon, the violence may increase in severity until the conflict ends tragically.

In the latest fighting, Israel has bombed the HAMAS controlled city of Gaza for the stated reason of neutralizing HAMAS and stopping them from firing rockets into Southern Israel. As of the date of this article, approximately 800 Palestinians and 10 Israelis have been killed. HAMAS' stated reasons for firing the rockets is to end the siege of Gaza by Israel which HAMAS alleges is preventing the free movement of people and goods and causing a humanitarian crisis. Israel denies the existence of a humanitarian crisis and refuses to end the siege of Gaza unless HAMAS recognizes Israel or is out power.

In general, what makes the Palestinian/Israeli conflict so dangerous is that half the world, (three billion people (Jews, Christians & Muslims)) are emotionally, historically and religiously attached to the land known as Israel/Palestine. This fact was demonstrated in the last few days as demonstrations erupted in more than 95 countries around the world.

Moreover, due to the affordability of satellite TV, in even the most underdeveloped countries, billions of interested people are exposed to 24 hour graphic coverage of this latest battle in Gaza. Western News stations like BBC and CNN no longer have a monopoly on reporting news. Many Middle Eastern TV stations have surpassed the reach of BBC, CNN and other western media.

As to graphic images, dozens of news stations like Aljazeera have been broadcasting live and prerecorded graphic images of Palestinian babies blown up into pieces by the Israeli military. One particular gruesome scene that was played over and over again was that of a three year old little girl with her heart protruding out of her body after a bomb fell on her house. Another station, Al Alam, repeated the scene of four dead babies who were placed next to each other in the same refrigerator of a morgue because of the large number of dead in Gaza. The graphic and often emotional coverage of this latest battle is inspiring the fury of the masses which in turn are putting enormous pressure on their governments to join the fight on the side of the Palestinians. This conflict is much more dangerous than most people realize.

For example, Egypt is receiving so much negative media coverage for not opening its border with Gaza that People throughout the Arab and Muslim world started calling for the overthrow of the Egyptian government and demonstrators attacked Egyptian embassies in several countries. The pressure on Egypt is so intense and ruthless that a shaken Egyptian president was forced to hold two press conferences to explain his government's position and to distance Egypt from Israel. Similarly, the friendly nation of Jordan came under so much pressure for not breaking diplomatic relations with Israel that King Abdullah held a publicity stunt in which he was seen donating blood for the people of Gaza and for the first time in recent memory he referred to Israel as the Enemy. Even the Saudi government was not immune from attacks and calls for the overthrow of the Saudi government. Media outlets repeated scenes of demonstrators burning the effigy of the King of Saudi Arabia with the Israeli flag wrapped around him for hundreds of millions of people to see. Saudi Arabia is perceived as a secret ally of Israel in the desire to destroy HAMAS and the refusal of the Saudi government to allow demonstrations against Israel only reinforced this belief. Whatever the truth, the Saudi government was so shaken by the attacks against it and the constant portrayal of the Saudi King rapped in the Israeli flag that the official Saudi media began publicizing Saudi efforts to raise money for the people of Gaza.

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is becoming extremely dangerous and can only be described as a ticking NUCLEAR BOMB. Currently, only Israel has nuclear weapons in the Middle East. But Iran may also go nuclear and if that happens the Arabs will try to do the same. Without a doubt, there is no conflict on earth that has the same global impact as the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Because of the potential for global instability, the entire world must do all it can to bring peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. The question is can this conflict be solved after many wars failed to end the conflict? The answer is YES but time is running out.

Currently, there are four proposals to the Israel/Palestinian conflict and three have been attempted and failed. The first is that the Israelis and Palestinians continue fighting until one submits to the other, a plan that has been tried and failed. The second is a plan where both people separate by creating two separate countries. This plan is referred to as the two state solution and all attempts to implement it have failed. The third is to divide the Palestinian territories and place them under the control of Egypt and Jordan. This solution has been tried (1948-1967) and also failed because it did not address the core of the conflict. The fourth solution is based on integration of both Israelis and Palestinians in one nation and is the only solution that has proven successful.

For the last 20 years the world has focused on the two state (two country) solution which has clearly failed. However, contrary to unanimous belief, neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis are to blame for the failure of the two state solution. The two state solution failed because the concept of creating two separate countries by dividing Israel/Palestine was and still is a difficult pill to swallow for Israelis & Palestinians. It is a fact that Israelis and Palestinians have religious, historical and emotional attachments to every square inch of the land that includes Israel and Palestine and neither side is eager to embrace permanent separation or "amputation" as described by Israeli novelist Amos Oz. Consequently, it is highly unlikely that permanent separation will lead to permanent peace.

In light of the above facts some may think that a solution is impossible. NOT TRUE. The Palestinian/Israeli conflict can be solved as long as both sides give up the notion that they deserve exclusive control and rule over Israel/Palestine.

In light of the attachments that both parties have for the same territory, the solution cannot be in separating but in finding a formula for living together. Many Israelis and Palestinians agree that Israel/Palestine is indivisible. Thus, the solution lies in uniting Israelis and Palestinians in one country while guaranteeing both sides equality and absolute security. What is being proposed here is the creation of two sovereign states similar to New York and New Jersey, joined together in a confederation to form one country.

To illustrate further, after occupying the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Israel could have annexed those territories into Israel by providing the Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. Israel did not do this and instead chose to treat the West Bank and Gaza as part of Israel without granting the Palestinians citizenship, equality or political participation. Legally, Palestinians were and continue to have the same status as American blacks in the 19th century. Israel did not integrate the Palestinians into Israel because Israelis were afraid that the Palestinians may one day outnumber the Jews and vote Israel out of existence. While this is a legitimate concern, Jews and Israelis who fear equality for Palestinians assume that granting the Palestinians equality would lead to the destruction of Israel. This is a false assumption.

The world has produced many successful formulas for different people living together and sharing power and a formula can be found in this case. An example of a formula is the creation of a confederation of Israel/Palestine based on the principles of free trade and the free movement of labor and people. As to the national government, Israel and Palestine can each contribute 50% to the national parliament, a formula that would guarantee security, and eliminate political dilution from demographic changes and make certain that extremist become marginalized.

The above formula is an example that gives Palestinians and Israelis most of what they want while allowing both people to be independent and secure. Moreover, with this solution, Jerusalem becomes a non-issue and borders become less relevant.

As proof that integration can work, consider that Israel has one million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship who are often referred to as "Israeli Arabs." It is important to note that they are not participating in violence. This is because Palestinians who are citizens of Israel have civil and political rights while the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have nothing.

Without a doubt most readers of this article will think that the authors are naïve, idealistic, stupid, Zionists or trying to destroy Israel. We understand your beliefs. However, please ask yourself if Israel destroys Hamas or Islamic Jihad will there be peace between Israelis and Palestinians? Consider that Hamas was created in 1987. Before HAMAS was created, Israel fought five major wars and numerous other battles. Moreover, before HAMAS there were the PLO, Fatah, PFLP, PFLP-GC, 15 May Organization, Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades, Al-'Asifah, Arab Liberation Front, Force 17, Black Hand , Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - Special Command, Popular Resistance Committees, Popular Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Black September, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Doghmush, Omar Ben al-Khatib Warriors, Palestinian Liberation Army, Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, Palestinian fedayeen, Swords of Truth, Rejectionist Front, among other organizations.

Today most of the above organizations have been destroyed or just vanished. However, the conflict has not ended as the above organizations have been replaced by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Holy Jihad Brigades, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Army of Islam, As-Sa'iqa, Tanzim, Al-Quds Brigades, among others. The point here is that even if Israel destroys HAMAS, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians would not be solved and it would only be a matter of time before a new group forms to replace HAMAS. Israelis and Palestinians must realize that what they have done for the last 70 years will never bring peace to either Palestine or Israel under the best of circumstances. Under the worst of circumstances this conflict may lead to an all out nuclear war where millions will die and this is no longer an exaggeration.

To summarize, Israel and its neighbors have fought numerous wars and no side has given up on their fundamental claims. For the last 20 years, both sides have tried to separate by creating two separate countries but this approach has failed because all sides have attachments to Israel and Palestine. The only solution that has a record of success is integration as demonstrated by the Palestinians who are citizens of Israel. If peace is not found then the day may soon come when the governments of the Middle East maybe overthrown by people who want to directly intervene on behalf of the Palestinians. If an uprising erupts throughout the Middle East then nuclear war may soon follow. Therefore, the choices are between total annihilation or equality for Palestinians and security for Israel. There are no other choices.

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