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MIDDLE EAST: Palestine

Miles Seeley, who knows the Middle East well, writes:

"It is no wonder most Palestinians scorn the UN. There have been several resolutions about the rights of Palestinians, the special status of Jerusalem, the occupied territories, and so on. There has been no real action or follow-through on any of them, so (at least when I lived there) Palestinians had lost all faith that the UN would ever do anything more than give them tents and some food.

On the other hand, it always seemed totally unrealistic to me to expect the Israelis to "give back" the lands occupied during the Six Day War. They were the spoils of war, and what country has ever fought a war and then given back what they won?

In my personal estimate, the basic question for Israelis has always been, What actions will best ensure our survival? Rule over the Palestinian lands and people, or work toward creating a separate Palestinian state?" Israelis are sharply divided. Now, unfortunately, as Barak's stock declines, the two waiting in the wings, Sharon and Netanyahu, are both hard-liners. The ascension of either one would seem to guarantee another intefadah.

My comment: I thought the world had learned that keeping conquered territory and exacting reparations are counterproductive. The US did not keep Cuba, and after World War II the Allies did not keep any part of Germany or Italy. The UN resolution called for giving a special international status to Jerusalem, which is clearly the only solution, but Israel and the US block that. It is evading the issue to talk of leaving that for future discussion.

Ronald Hilton - 12/04/00