American broadcaster and Palestinian Arab Ray Hanania’s Two State Peace Plan to allocate sovereignty in the West Bank between Jews and Arabs and end the 130 years old conflict between them has already got off to a flying start.
The main features of his proposal that markedly depart from the current policy of the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League are:
1. Israel will be recognised as the Jewish StateThe impact of his proposal can be judged by the effect it has already had on Bradley Burston - the columnist for Ha’aretz and senior editor of Ha’aretz.com.
2. Jewish settlements in the West Bank will become part of Israel in exchange for an equivalent area of land from Israel to the new Arab state
3. Arabs shall not have any right to emigrate to Israel
4. Arab refugees and Jewish refugees from Arab lands shall be entitled to compensation from an international fund set up to deal with claims
5. Arabs living in Israel shall only vote in elections in the newly created State
Burstons bio is very revealing:
"Bradley Burston is a columnist for Israel’s Haaretz Newspaper, and Senior Editor of Haaretz.com which publishes his blog, "A Special Place in Hell." During the first Palestinian uprising, he served as Gaza correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, and was the paper’s military correspondent in the 1991 Gulf War. In the mid-1990s he covered Israeli-Arab peace talks for Reuters. He is a recipient of the Eliav-Sartawi Award for Mideast Journalism, presented at the United Nations in 2006.Burston has been extremely critical of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s current Government.
Burston was born and raised in Los Angeles. After graduating from UC Berkeley, he moved to Israel, where he was part of a group which established Kibbutz Gezer, between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Burston served in the IDF as a combat medic, later studying medicine in Be’er Sheva for two years before turning to journalism."
On 22 July 2009 Burston wrote the following in the Huffington Post:
“Permit me at this point to save some time, and to speak candidly. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, whether they are willing to publicly acknowledge this or not, knows that obstacles are precisely what West Bank settlements were put there to be.Burston followed this up with the following statement in the Huffington Post on 29 July 2009:
Settlements, whether considered legal or illegal, whether granted overt or blind-eye Israeli government sanction, or placed there by unruly-eyed fanatics who hate the Israeli government almost as much as they hate Arabs, have a common goal.
They were built to be explicit, intentional, physical, literal obstacles to any peace process that would include ceding West Bank land to Palestinians. And that, everyone knows, describes any conceivable future peace process.”
“There is no little irony in the circumstance that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose Palestinian recognition of Israel as "the national state of the Jewish People" as a central tool in efforts to stave off peace talks and deflect demands for a settlement freeze.”Hanania’s proposals have shredded these controversial statements by Burston into tiny pieces.
Burston has been one of the first Israeli-critical journalists to hop on the Hanania bandwagon.
In an article in Ha’aretz on 24 November entitled “A Palestinian peace plan Israelis can live with” Burston enthusiastically endorses Hanania’s proposals.
“What Hanania is proposing is a two state solution that addresses not only quantifiable issues, but underlying emotional grievances, and the anguish in the histories of both sides. Cynics, and, in particular, the extremists among them, will reject it out of hand as simplistic and artificially balanced. But if peace is ever to be made in the Holy Land, it will be made despite extremists and not by them.Israel as the Jewish National Home and existing Jewish settlements in the West Bank are no longer regarded as obstacles to peace under Hanania’s proposals but are recognized now as the eventual outcomes of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
As in every potentially workable peace proposal, Hanania’s plan has something in it to upset and disappoint everyone. But its underlying principle of compromise based on mutual respect and compassion, its openness to the needs and wounds of two victimized peoples, and its suggestion that grassroots sentiment for peace can succeed where leaders have so consistently failed, are surely as worthy of serious consideration, as anything currently on the table. “
One swallow doesn’t make a summer. However the attractiveness of Hanania’s plan has already been endorsed on a number of web sites in the 14 days since it first saw the light of day.
The real test will come when official responses to Hanania’s proposed plan as the basis for future negotiations are sought from the main parties trying to resolve the current impasse in negotiations - Israel, the Arab League, the Palestinian Authority, America, Russia and the European Union.
The people best able to approach those decision makers for comment are journalists - especially those of the calibre of Hanania and Burston.
In collaboration they already constitute a lobby of great influence. It is not always numbers that count but rather the quality of the people involved who are in a position to get proposals aired and discussed in public and not relegated to the backburner.
The responses when they come will be crucial in deciding whether an immovable roadblock will threaten the end of what has been the most innovative two state solution yet raised.
Somehow I don’t see journalists of the calibre of Hanania and Burston giving in very easily without a long and hard struggle to finally get Israel and the Palestinian Authority to sit down and negotiate within the parameters of Hanania’s proposals.
Sit back, enjoy the ride and watch this space for further developments.