The Israeli/Palestinian Cease Fire
Any reduction in innocent death and suffering is a cause for joy. But if the cease-fire is to ripen into a true and lasting peace, both sides need to recognize the urgent need to speedily resolve the conflict based on mutual recognition of the rights of both peoples to live in peace and security within two independent, viable sovereign states.
On the Israeli side, there must be recognition that the Occupation, while not the sole cause of the conflict, is the principal obstacle to its resolution. This means giving up any illusions that Israel can retain most settlements on the West Bank in return for the creation of a Bantustan-like state consisting of isolated pockets of Palestinian control, encircled and permeated by Jewish settlements under IDF protection.
If Prime Minister Sharon believes that the unilateral evacuation of Gaza, coupled with dismantling a few unauthorized West Bank settlements, is the price to pay for retaining most of the West Bank, the cease-fire will quickly fall apart. Any Palestinian government will be deligitimized in the eyes of its people if it is unable to negotiate an end to Israeli occupation and the creation of a viable state.
It is also clear that Palestinian terrorism over the past four years served to silence the Israeli peace movement, and enabled Sharon to violate the human rights of the Palestinian people with impunity. Palestinian terrorism enabled the Sharon government to construct the illegal Security Wall deep in the West Bank with no significant opposition, either domestically or from the United States government.
Both sides must move quickly to finally resolve the conflict based on a two-state solution. To prolong the ultimate resolution in a chimerical search for security before there can be peace guarantees that there will be neither security nor peace. The Geneva Accords negotiated between Israeli and Palestinian representatives is a basis for a final resolution of the conflict on mutually agreeable terms. Israel and the Palestinians have a limited window of time to make such a resolution a reality.
Sheldon H. Laskin, an attorney, is a member of the steering commmittee of the Baltimore Tikkun Community, the local chapter of the National Tikkun Community founded by Rabbi Michael Lerner, Cornel West and Susanna Heschel.
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This story was published on March 4, 2005.