The most complicated problem arising from the Arab-Israeli conflict is the fact that Israel is a racist Jewish state which has raised its generations over five decades on racism and the Jews’ superiority. Therefore, the Jews of the state of Israel do not see, more over do not accept to see, Arabs as having equal rights, or allow integration between Arabs and Jews in schools and other institutions. They also cannot accept to have Arabs equal to them in other state institutions.
This is with regard to 29% of the population of Israel, the Israeli Arabs. As for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the actions of the Israeli army are clear proof of how the Israeli Jews view the Arabs. Israeli Jews believe they have a divine right; that is, that God gave them this land, and that the Arabs who live in it have no rights and cannot be allowed equal rights of any sort, not even with regard to basic human rights.
Israeli Jews try to prevent the establishment of any Palestinian entity between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and aspire to group the Arabs who live in the West Bank and Gaza and distribute them among separate and disjointed cantons subject to the same standards the Jewish state has imposed on Israeli Arabs since 1948 é standards by which racist leaders rule over their subjects with the same racial discrimination that the Hebrew state has enforced through laws and traditions still in use today.
It does not seem to be in Israel’s future, despite the economic and social developments it has gone through over the last fifty years, that any of the political parties has any intention of proposing a constitution to secularize the state and abolish its racial laws and rules.
Based on this and based on their racial upbringing, Israeli Jews always feel a strategic fear, and feel deeply worried about the future of Israel. They believe that the Arabs would not accept the state of Israel as an established reality in the region. The Israelis’ worries and feelings of danger stem from within themselves and not from their surroundings. They are the ones who regard themselves as racially superior and then shudder at the thought of their surroundings rejecting them.
They are the ones who carry out racist military aggression against others and then cry that they are being terrorized by those who want to destroy the state of Israel. Their insistence on keeping the West Bank and Gaza Strip under occupation undoubtedly stems from this racist upbringing, and from the anxiety and fear they themselves have created.
Israeli aggression began when Israel carried out its armed raids and committed massacres at Qibya, Kufur Qasem, Deir Yassin and continued with wars to occupy Sinai, the Golan, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Then followed the occupation of Lebanon in 1982 and the storming of the capital Beirut after the Palestinian forces had left, and the massacres of Sabra and Shatilla. All these racist acts led to an Arab reaction that rejected and confronted this racist arrogance.
When the option of peace was proposed, the Israelis, due to their racist upbringing, acted with great fear and anxiety. They fear peace because it might mean the loss of their feeling of distinction, and their ability to continue in their racist military ways in confronting dangers they themselves invented, and then believed.
This is why current Israeli Prime Minister Sharon opposed the Camp David agreement signed by Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat, and this is why he opposed the Oslo accords and the declaration of principles. This is why Sharon is trying to cancel any possibility of progress on the road to peace. He sees peace as a blow to the Jewishness of the state, that is, its racism, and sees the collapse of this racism, the heading towards a secular state and abandoning of the laws of racial discrimination that govern the state and its institutions, as results of peace.
It may appear that we are completely pessimistic about reaching any political solution from our discussion of this racism against the Palestinian people and Israeli Arabs, but that is not the case. We are merely pointing out one of the major problems that occurs with every attempt to push the peace process forward, so we may overcome this problem.
To overcome this problem we suggest that we draw up a vision of the solution going from the end to the beginning and not from the beginning to the end.
If we want to resolve the Israelis’ fear and security complex we must create an entity of two confederate states; Israel and the state of Palestine (and perhaps Jordan too) é on condition that this entity be a democratic secular one in which all citizens have equal rights and duties and through which democratic institution can work to create economic and social progress and welfare that enables everyone to enjoy security, stability and continuity.
This entity will be free of all forms of racial and religious discrimination and its laws would be introduced according to the highest standard of democracy in the world. With this end result everyone would enjoy security, stability and continuity é otherwise the feelings of worry and fear of an unknown future could bring disaster on Israelis and Palestinians alike.
For us to reach this end we must start by ending the direct form of the practices of racial arrogance and violence, this destructive military arrogance. Experience has shown that leaving the door open for Sharon and the rulers of Israel to decide when to withdraw from Palestinian lands, the size of this withdrawal as well as the nature and size of this state, will lead only to more Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people. The United States, Europe and Russia are therefore required to close that door and begin work through a defined mechanism that will force both parties to end the Israeli occupation and begin to build a sovereign independent state.
When we talk about closing the door we mean not allowing the Israeli government to decide for itself and for the Palestinians what should be done. This can be done by having multi-national forces (American, European and Russian) take over all lands Israel still occupies, therefore ensuring:
An immediate and complete cease-fire.
Preventing any violence by the Israelis and the Palestinians in order to create conditions suitable for negotiating, in a short period, regarding the clauses of the peace treaty between the state of Israel and the independent state of Palestine.
That these forces take control of all Israeli army border posts, and ensure the proper conduct of the forces on these borders, ensure that no weapons or other material that Israel sees the need to prevent, enters.
That these multi-national troops guarantee safety and security on all roads in the West Bank and Gaza Strip until all settlers are returned to within the green line in accordance with agreements.
Regarding the final outcome, Israeli public opinion has become confused, it is therefore necessary that some main points be made clear again. These points can be summarized as follows:
First: The Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority condemn terrorism and violence and reject these methods.
Second: The Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority do not want, seek or plan to destroy the state of Israel. They recognize the state of Israel and are committed to Israel’s right to live behind safe and recognized borders.
Third: The Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority are working to establish an independent state on Palestinian lands occupied in 1967 (the West Bank and Gaza Strip).
Fourth: East Jerusalem is occupied like other Palestinian lands occupied by Israel in 1967, and so control over it and over Islamic and Christian holy sites must return to the Palestinians. This does not prevent Jerusalem from being unified and a capital of both Israel and the Palestinian state.
Fifth: The Palestinian state will enjoy complete sovereignty with all the legal and economic aspects that that implies, and will be unarmed, except for what is needed for security services and border soldiers.
Sixth: The right of return is a sacred right for every human being on the face of the earth. It is an international right that cannot be revoked by a resolution, but the implementation and timing of this right is being discussed in the framework of an international committee that includes all concerned parties. A timetable that is not related to the timetable of establishing the Palestinian state can be drafted.
It is necessary here to assure the Israeli public that agreeing on the clauses of implementing this right will be up to the multi-national committee we mentioned that will include the state of Israel and the state of Palestine as well as Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the United States, European Union, Russia, Japan and Canada.
We can assure you that this will not, and must not, in any way threaten the security of Israel, or its stability and demographic nature.
We want to make clear to the United States, the European Union and to Russia how their words about the need to establish an independent Palestinian state can be turned into action on the ground.
Bassam Abu-Sharif is a special advisor to President Arafat.