by Judy Reynolds, September 10, 2009
In response to my letter urging support for President Obama's call for a halt in construction/settlement activity in East Jerusalem as a step toward a two-state solution, Helen Singer asserts that "radicals" do not want a two-state solution or peace with Israel, and that the Palestinians have not been willing to negotiate or even recognize Israel's right to exist "as a Jewish nation."
Earlier this year, in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's precondition for peace talks that the Palestinians recognize his country as a Jewish state, Khaled Meshaal, the leader of the Palestinian group Hamas' political bureau, supported the idea of a two-state solution, accepting the creation of a Palestinian state within 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other top PA officials also want the Israeli government to accept a two-state solution.
At the same time, neither the Palestinian Authority nor Hamas is willing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, believing that the state of Israel belongs to all of its citizens, Jewish and Arab alike.
"No country in the world has ever demanded that it be recognized on the basis of its religion and not political entity," noted Hafez Barghouti, editor of the PA's daily publication, Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda.
Thus, Palestinian leaders are, in fact, willing to negotiate the two-state solution, with Israel as a secular state. Will the insistence on a Jewish state scuttle the two-state solution? If so, what then? A one-state solution? Endless occupation with continued violence over Israel's construction/settlement activity?
I continue to favor Obama's call, as well as peaceful negotiations for a two-state solution that are sensitive to the interests of all parties, without unrealistic preconditions. It can be done.