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    Sputnik discussed relations between Israel and Palestine with Itzhak Galnoor, professor of Political Science at Hebrew University and former head of the Civil Service Commission in Itzhak Rabin’s government.

    Three Palestinians were killed in Israeli military shelling in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. According to the IDF, the strike targeted an observation post manned by Islamic Jihad fighters after an explosive device was planted by the Israeli-Gaza border fence. This comes after over 110 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured in recent protests in Gaza.

    Sputnik: 112 Palestinians have died and thousands have been injured during recent protests. Israeli Deputy Minister Michael Oren blamed Hamas for the violence in Gaza saying that “Israeli military acted in self-defense,” his statement was echoed by the White House while the rest of the world condemned Israel‘s handling of the protests. How do you assess the situation, professor?

    Itzhak Galnoor: The Gaza Strip is a very small area, we’re talking about a strip of about 40 km x 10, less than 400 km² with 2 million people living there and most of them in refugee camps. So by definition, this is an impossible situation, and to deal with Gaza as if it is a problem in itself would mean there is no solution; it is now separated from the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas has been in power since 2007, for the last 10 years, and finally there are two countries bordering on the Gaza Strip, on one side — Israel, and on the other side — Egypt, so I see the situation right now as a situation in which both sides cannot win. Hamas is now claiming that it is using non-violent means, but Israel claims that it is violent and feels threatened by the people marching on the fence; so I think that both sides have to think about it, not as the situation by itself, but as part of a larger agreement including, of course, Egypt.

    Sputnik: The United States has recently opened its US Embassy in Jerusalem after President Donald Trump decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Mr. Trump, as well as his son in law, Jared Kushner, said that this move would advance peace. What’s the rationale behind this decision?

    Itzhak Galnoor: I don’t think it would advance peace in any way that no one can see. Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel and it should've be recognized as such, but the timing, and they say that this is done by the US administration that is not capable of strategic thinking, doesn’t contribute to peace as such; so I think Jerusalem should’ve been part of an agreement between all sides and not just one side’s movement by Israel or by the United States.

    Sputnik: A lot has been said about the importance of the two-state solution, although we’ve never heard how it would work; can you tell us how do you see it?

    Itzhak Galnoor: In my opinion there is no other solution, the idea of one state doesn’t seem to be plausible. Certainly less than two states, because I don’t think Israel is ready to have a state in which it would share the identity of the state with the Palestinians. We're not at this stage of our national development, we’re still groping with the question: what is the Jewish state, what is the Israeli state and so on. And similarly I don’t see the Palestinians having strong faith and confidence in their own Palestinian nationality; they have questions about their identity: Who are we? Palestinians? Arabs? Muslims? Part of the Middle East?, and so on. So two states in which there is no real strong confidence in their identity are not ready for a one-state solution. The fact is that we are one state at the moment, but one state in the sense that Israel occupies Palestine, so it’s not really one state. I think that the solution is rather clear, that the only way is to have two states and to define the borders, and to have, perhaps, Jerusalem as a joint capital. Now we can think about arrangements, if you’re interested I can say, for instance, a federation would be a good idea, in the which the two states would preserve their national identity, but there would be corporation and there would be some kind of a joint parliament that would take care of all the shared business, certainly, cooperation in the economic area, but the first step is to have two states, Palestine and Israel, with some arrangement for, let’s say, 10 years towards a federation or confederation, that’s my way of seeing it.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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