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Israeli Arab and Jewish coexistence could provide lessons for peace

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Israeli Arab and Jewish coexistence could provide lessons for peace

The largely peaceful coexistence between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews could provide lessons for a future peace between Israel and Palestine. This was the view from panelists at an event held at the Liliesleaf Farm and Museum on Monday, 5 February, entitled Israel and Palestine: What Lies Ahead.

The panelists included famed writer and former journalist, Benjamin Pogrund, Afro-Middle East Centre Director and Academic, Na’eem Jeenah and Dr Alon Liel, former Israeli Ambassador to South Africa and Director of Save Israel Stop the Occupation.

Despite unanimity over Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews serving as a case study of a future peace, there was, however, disagreement of what a final peace deal between Israel and Palestine looks like.

Benjamin Pogrund posited that the “two-state solution is the only viable solution” and “is the only game in town although it is discredited in many ways.” Pogrund says “the two-state solution is the universally accepted way forward, as it must be.” And the reason for that, he says, “is because it’s the only concept, idea, we can follow at this stage, which can meet the basic need to satisfy self-determination for Palestinians, to give them the freedom which they want, and which they must have. And secondly, to ensure that Israelis are free from fear of being exterminated, and that they can live securely in their own Jewish ethnocratic state.”

Na’eem Jeenah disagreed saying that “what lies ahead is not an end to the occupation that will save Israel in the form that it currently is, more likely it will be an end to the occupation that will see Israel de jure as a single state, from the river to the sea. It will be that state, as a single state.” The real question then, says Jeenah “is not whether there will be a one state or a two state, for Israelis and Palestinians. The real question is whether the path from here to there will be a non-violent, negotiated, debated, argued one state, with a minimal loss of life and minimal misery for both Palestinians and Israeli Jews, or whether the path will be one that is characterised by violence, bloodshed and death, and misery for all concerned.”

Dr Alon Liel, on the other hand, opined that the two-state solution was dying, a situation he attributes to the changing geopolitical order in the Middle East, an overly pro-Israel White House, and the implosion of traditional Palestinian allies in the region – notably Syria and Lebanon. Liel suggested instead, that the discussion be “from now on, what does one state mean? What is a one state? How will Israel operate in a one state? What will it do to Israelis? What will it do to the Palestinians?” “I think this is the big question”, says Liel.