Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Solving the Israel-Palestine Problem

Written by johnleemk on 12:20:20 am Apr 17, 2007.

The problems of the Middle East need a solution. The most pressing issue is that of the Israel-Palestine conflict, which has seen a lot of blame going around, but not so much effort to solve the issue. Who can overcome this, and how can this be done?

The Palestinian Authority has proven to be utterly ineffectual; Yasser Arafat notoriously rebuffed many Israeli attempts to secure peace, which might have been achievable because of the power he held in his time. When people like Mahmoud Abbas tried to decrease the violence, it was Arafat who interfered with their efforts and rendered them ineffective, after all.

Now, Abbas is President, but his Prime Minister is from the Hamas terrorist organisation (there is no other way to describe an organisation formed to perpetrate and perpetuate the murders of people). This has made the West reluctant to aid Palestine, and made Abbas unable to implement any sort of plan for keeping the extremist elements of Palestinian society in check. Even Palestinian policemen are often involved in terrorist activities.

The Israeli government under Ariel Sharon did not seem to do much about the violence either. Sharon himself has a track record of involvement in military activities against the Palestinians, being an Israeli military veteran.

Sharon's successor, Ehud Olmert, did carry out a scandalous war against Hezbollah which caused a lot of torment for the Lebanese, but has also been behind plans to remove Israeli settlers from disputed territory (plans proposed by Sharon, but strongly pushed by Olmert).

It's difficult to apportion blame for the Israel-Palestine problem, but blame is not what we need. What we need are solutions, and Israel seems to have taken the lead unilaterally in trying to sort things out, by removing Israeli settlers from contested areas — and with the kind of force that they have often applied to Palestinians. (The reactions they were met with were also quite similar, with Israeli soldiers being stoned by angry Israeli families who refused to be uprooted.)

Israel's wall remains a problem, though, as it cuts off many Palestinian families from their previous livelihoods in the other side of the wall. If we want the wall to come down, however, we must first stop the violence.

What is the root of the violence? This is just my opinion, but I think it is simply the feeling of futlity experienced by many Palestinians. They are unable to secure a better living for themselves, and thanks to the bounties provided by many terrorist organisations, those who are "martyred" for the cause will see their families getting a better life. Israeli violence in response to attacks also further fans the flames.

The solution then seems to be to cut off this poverty. Ironically, Israel might be better served if it provided economic aid for the families of suicide bombers. The Palestinians are victims of their poverty, and they inflict their outrage on the convenient target of Israel — eliminate the outrage, eliminate the poverty, and the Palestinians won't be so eager to become suicide bombers.

Giving Palestine their own state also seems to be the fair and just thing to do. A one-state solution, where Israelis and Palestinians are citizens of the same country with an equal stake in it is something that appeals to me, but is also something that is simply impractical.

Still, the trappings of political sovereignty hold no meaning if there is no economic sovereignty. The Palestinians must first be independent economically before they can gain political independence. If these unhappy people have their own state, it will still make no difference; these frustrations will still find an outlet somewhere.

The question of how to end Palestinian poverty is not an easy one. I don't believe I have the answers. But I do think that the unconventional but simple solution of tackling their poverty is the right angle to approach the problem of Israeli-Palestinian violence with. If the suicide bombers can lead productive lives, if they do not feel pushed to the wall with nothing left to live for, they will not attack Israel — and Israel will not attack them.

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Infernal Ramblings is a Malaysian website focusing on current events and sociopolitical issues. Its articles run the gamut from economics to society to education.

Infernal Ramblings is run by John Lee. For more, see the About section. If you have any questions or comments, do drop him a line.

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