This refers to the articles “The Middle East: the way forward” by Mohamed Higazy (Aug. 23) and the response “Two hands for a clap” by Daniel Zohar Zonshine (Sept. 4). The history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a long and complex one. Suffering and distrust of the other side are experienced by both Israelis and Palestinians. In his presentation of ‘land for peace’ as the cure-all of this conflict, the Egyptian ambassador to India fails to mention that many Israeli children have died in suicide attacks. Only the building of a wall managed to put a stop to this wave of attacks.
The Consul General of Israel, in turn, does not mention that the positioning of the wall directly amounts to land grab. He also does not mention the hardship brought on the Palestinians by decades of economic strangulation. Thus, Israel for its own sake, should find ways to lessen the hardships of ordinary Palestinians. And at one point in the future, the Egyptian ambassador’s goal will be reached: Israel will have to give ‘land,’ something concrete, to Palestinians. But this will not happen until the Palestinians can prove that ‘peace’ given in return will be more than an abstract concept.
Mr. Zonshine claims that the current impasse in Palestinian politics makes Israel wary of its security. The impasse accruing from the power struggle between the Palestinian factions in reality works in Israel’s favour. It enables Israel to claim that it has no credible partner to negotiate with — a claim it made during Yasser Arafat’s lifetime too. The consul should be wary of touting the Gaza withdrawal (and its aftermath) as an Israeli gift to the Palestinians and an example of Palestinians’ ‘perfidy’. A cursory perusal of the unilateral withdrawal reveals its flawed premises.
Last but not the least, his claims about lack of economic activity by Palestinians is nothing but bizarre. How can economic activity bloom when the state or a quasi state-like entity is starved of funds? The essence of the arguments is that Israel wants to have the cake and eat it too.
Sampath Kumar Swaminathan,