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Flashpoint

Statehood is key to peace

Israel's apartheid-like vision of peace humiliates Palestinians.

October 08, 2000|By Sunni M. Khalid

For the majority of Palestinians, occupation is neither "enlightened" nor "benign," as some Israelis describe it. It is a painful daily reminder of subjugation. Humiliation is a part of life for the average Palestinian who must routinely endure stops at Israeli military checkpoints and harassment by often arrogant Israeli soldiers.

The humiliation continues when Palestinians are forced to deal with an unresponsive Israeli bureaucracy, which requires them to complete most forms in Hebrew instead of Arabic or English. Given the scope and ferocity of political violence that has swept spontaneously through the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and among Israeli-Arab communities, it is ludicrous to believe that the corrupt and inept Palestinian Authority or even Hamas could organize or control the protests, let alone the deep seated anger and frustration that has fueled them. For now, the main focus should be on diplomacy to the end the bloodshed on both sides, if only to give the peace process a last chance. For Palestinians who suffered casualties in the rioting, this will be difficult but necessary.

"If one wants an occupation to end, one does not make it impossible for the occupier to leave," said I. William Zartman, a professor on negotiations at Johns Hopkins University's Nitze School for Advanced International Studies. "Otherwise, the Palestinians are playing right into the hands of Sharon and his supporters."

If Oslo's final definition of peace is anything less than genuine statehood for the Palestinians, Israel will not be able to end its 52-year conflict with the Arabs. The latest uprising shows that the Palestinian public will not settle for anything less than the promise of full peace that only genuine statehood can give them, not the half-loaf foisted on them by the Oslo peace process.

Sunni M. Khalid is a free-lance journalist and a former Middle East correspondent who was based in Cairo.

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