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  • Writer's picturePublieke Getuienis

Israel en Palestina - waarheen nou?

Braam Hanekom het in 2014 na besoek aan Israel en die Wes Oewer die onderstaande artikel geskryf wat in die Jerusalem Post gepubliseer is. Dit is vandag nog relevant.

“Finding a solution is not the end of a problem but the key to a new and sometimes difficult journey… But then a journey with hope.”

It is always difficult and dangerous to try and be a prophet and broker in a peace process after a relatively short exposure to any conflict. So let me first clarify my position: I don’t want to be a judge and I have been part of enough conversations to understand how difficult and dangerous it becomes when you engage in tit for tat arguments on who is right or wrong. If we try and find a solution by demonizing or delegitimizing the other, we will find that we actually prolong the conflict. Although I cannot be the judge I will however keep on searching for truth in order to find clarity in my own mind. With all my heart I am longing for true and sustainable peace in Israel and Palestine.

I cannot help but look at Israel and Palestine through the eyes of a South African. I did my military training in the SANDF. I have seen the good and the worst of the military, but I also today - after 20 years - see the psychological scars the war and conflict have left on the people of SA. I could not help to recognise that in Israel and Palestine. It already looks ominous and is of great concern to me .

So, with great humility I propose the following. I will touch on some long term but, also some urgent and thorny issues:

1. For a long time, I was convinced (and deep down in my heart I still hope for that) that Israel and Palestine should become one state and that Jews and Arabs should live in peaceful co-existence with one another. I believe that if you read the Bible carefully you will find that despite of many wars, that was the situation centuries ago.

2. Today however I feel like Moses who allowed the people to divorce because of pragmatic reasons. The two-state solution is something that must become a reality as soon as possible. Maybe a next generation will find the will and courage to not only dismantle the wall but also the borders.

3. I believe that we must immediately start an extensive process of dialogue between a younger generation of Palestinian and Israeli youth. (Many years ago, believe it or not there were similar initiatives in SA that were stopped by the government!) Surely international funds could be made available for such an initiative. At first the fruits will seem to be very limited, but after some years you will reap the harvest.

4. A new generation Arabs and Jews must be educated to live with a new and more positive understanding of one another. In SA we have a saying that racism is like “knowledge in the blood” Children grew up with it. Intervention must come at an early age.

5. Therefore, the Israeli education system and UNWRA who receives international money to help build the education system in Palestine should me monitored very carefully for any material that might fuel wrong and dangerous perceptions of the other.

6. The “Right to return” is a thorny issue. But let’s go to the core of the problem. The Israelis will acknowledge that 500 000 people were uprooted. The Palestinian people claim that 5 million have a right to return to Israel. This has now become a clear power-political numbers game. In a one man one vote society the Palestinians will end up in control of both Palestine and Israel. Israelis see this from a mile and won’t accept it. What they must accept is the right to return in principle and then negotiate a just number. But UNWRA must immediately start to do their work. The work for which they receive millions of dollars and present us with a list of refugees (names). Otherwise, we will create a carte blanche for return to Israel. No state on this planet will accept this.

7. I believe that the UN must immediately create a Human Rights Commission/ watchdog that will be tasked to monitor any form of hate speech and bring that to the attention of the international community. In SA this has become the norm of the day. These people, who continue with their hate speech are our real enemies.

8. I believe that as we speak too many people are underestimating the religious dimension of the conflict. Although it might look on the surface as if Israel; is becoming a more secular this little country has become for millions and millions of believers (Jews, Muslims and Christians) right over the world the epicenter of their sincerest beliefs about the future. Therefore, in any peace negations the safe access of different believers to all religious sites will have to be guaranteed. E.g., The Israelis will have to pull out of Hebron and the Palestinians will have to allow the Jews onto the Second Temple Mount. These gestures will be an acid test for an honest desire for peace. The international community are very hesitant to accept a “Christian” Islamic or Jewish state” What they will accept is a secular state with a constitution where a certain religious group has the majority e.g., South Africa (Christians) Turkey (Islam) and Israel (Jews).

9. The 1967 “borders”/green line will have to be the starting point for any negotiation. Any deviation of the green line should be kept to the minimum (max 5-6%) and dealt with by land swops. The so-called, A, B and C territories will have to be scraped and become territories under full Palestinian control.

10. Israelis will have to leave the settlements/communities in the West Bank or accept the fact that if they stay, they will have to live under full Palestinian authority.

11. East Jerusalem must go back to the Palestinians but as previously stated a site like the second temple mount must become fully accessible to believers of all faiths.

12. Accusations regarding the imprisonment of and violence against children should be dealt with urgently and decisively.

13. Both parties will have to realise that any form of aggression after a settlement will cause a devastating military response.

Maybe the most important thing to realise is that a two party solution will solve nothing if the two nations do not reconcile with one another. Their lives are to intertwined and they live in to close a proximity to one another to think that a mere separation will solve the problem. I have heard the word reconciliation not enough during my visits. It will have to become part of the daily repertoire.

My honest opinion is that the majority of citizens on both sides of the conflict want a solution and want to live in peace with one another. It is the extreme parties on both sides and the politicians that creates a major stumbling block.


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