Post date: 15-Oct-2009 15:02:27

Kamal N

awash, the President of the Free Muslims Coalition, has agreed yesterday to work with us! Here is their project for Israel-Palestine:

Task Force on Israel-Palestine

The Task Force on Israel-Palestine was created by the Free Muslims Coalition (FMC) to work towards a resolution of what has become the most publicized and thus, most dangerous conflict of the 21st century. The Task Force was created after the 2009 battle between Israel and HAMAS when FMC President, Kamal Nawash concluded that the 2009 battle produced circumstantial evidence that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has become much more dangerous than ever before.

The Task Force will be co-directed by attorney Kamal Nawash, who is an American Muslim of Palestinian heritage and attorney Yigal Kahana, who is a Jewish American of Israeli heritage. To be sure, while the two directors want closer relations between Palestinians and Israelis, they also disagree on many issues and that is fine. The Task Force is not interested in preaching to the choir, but in working on a broader scale towards reaching a peaceful resolution.

What makes the Palestinian/Israeli conflict so dangerous is that half the world, three billion Jews, Christians & Muslims, are emotionally, historically and religiously attached to the land known as Israel/Palestine. Specifically, Jews see Israel/Palestine as a necessary safe haven to protect Jews from 2000 years of persecution. Jews also consider Israel/Palestine as their religious and ancestral homeland. Palestinians, who are made up of Christians and Muslims, see Israel/Palestine as their current and ancestral homeland which was unjustly taken from them. Palestinians also believe that their persecution and dislocation will not end until they regain their home-land. From a religious perspective, Palestinian Christians see Israel/Palestine as the origin of Christianity and Palestinian Muslims see Israel/Palestine as the first place they were ordered to pray, before Mecca.

Today, due to the affordability of satellite TV, in even the most underdeveloped countries, billions of interested people are exposed to 24 hour coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Western News stations like BBC and CNN no longer have a monopoly on reporting news. The graphic and often emotional coverage of the Palestinian Israeli conflict inspires the masses in the Arab and Muslim worlds, which in turn putts enormous pressure on their governments to join the fight for Palestinians or to break relations with Israel.

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has become extremely dangerous and can only be described as a ticking NUCLEAR BOMB. Currently, only Israel has nuclear weapons in the Middle East. But Iran may also go nuclear and if it succeeds the Arabs may try to do the same. Without a doubt, there is no conflict on earth that has the same global impact as the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Because of the potential for global instability, the entire world must do all it can to bring peace to the Palestinians and Israelis. The question is can this conflict be solved after many wars failed to end the conflict? The answer is YES but time is running out.

Currently, there are four possible approaches to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict; and three have been attempted and failed. The first is that the Israelis and Palestinians continue fighting until one submits to the other, a plan that has been tried and failed. The second is a plan where both people separate by creating two separate countries. This plan is referred to as the two state solution and all attempts to implement it have so far failed. The third is to divide the Palestinian territories and place them under the control of Egypt and Jordan. This solution was tried (1948-1967) and also failed. The fourth solution is based on integrating both Israelis and Palestinians within one nation and that is the only solution that has proven successful in Israel

For the last 20 years the world has focused on the two state (two country) solution without much success. However, contrary to unanimous belief, neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis are to blame for the failure of the two state solution. The two state solution failed because the concept of creating two separate countries by dividing Israel/Palestine was and still is a difficult pill to swallow for Israelis and Palestinians. It is a fact that Israelis and Palestinians have religious, historical and emotional attachments to every square inch of the land that includes Israel and Palestine and neither side is eager to embrace permanent separation or “amputation” as described by Israeli novelist Amos Oz. And, at the end of the day, it should be obvious to anyone who takes an honest look at the map that there really is not enough room in such a small area as Israel and Palestine, even together, to support two separate states, that are contiguous, and viable.

In light of the above facts some may think that a solution is impossible. NOT TRUE. The Task Force believes the opposite--that the Palestinian/Israeli conflict can be solved as long as both sides give up the notion that they deserve exclusive control and rule over Israel/Palestine.

In light of the attachments that both parties have for the same territory, the solution cannot be separating but in finding a formula for living together. Many Israelis and Palestinians agree that Israel/Palestine is indivisible. Thus, the solution lies in uniting Israelis and Palestinians while guaranteeing both sides equality and absolute security. The Task Force is proposing the creation of two sovereign states similar to New York and New Jersey, joined together in a confederation to form one country.

The world has produced many successful formulas for different people living together and sharing power. The Task Force thinks that a formula can be found in this case too. An example of a solution proposed by the Task Force is the creation of a confederation of Israel/Palestine based on the principles of nonviolence, free trade and the free movement of labor and people. As to power sharing, Israel and Palestine can each contribute 50% to the national parliament, a formula that would guarantee security, and eliminate political dilution from demographic changes and make certain that extremists become marginalized.

The above formula is an example that gives Palestinians and Israelis most of what they want while allowing both peoples to be independent and secure. Moreover, with this solution, Jerusalem can become a non-issue and borders become less relevant.

As proof that integration can work, consider that Israel has more than one million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship who are often referred to as “Israeli Arabs.” It is important to note that they generally do not participate in violence. That is because as citizens of Israel they have civil and political rights; while the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have nothing.

Without a doubt most readers of this article will think that the Task Force is naïve, idealistic, or simply unrealistic. However, the Task Force believes that integration is a more promising solution than segregation and is willing to risk ridicule in the short term to secure peace in the long term.

Some say that peace will be achieved if organizations like HAMAS or Islamic Jihad were to disappear. Admittedly, the Task Force would love to see HAMAS and Islamic Jihad disappear. However, if Israel destroys HAMAS or Islamic Jihad will their destruction guarantee peace between Israelis and Palestinians? Consider that Hamas was created in 1987. Before HAMAS was created, Israel fought five major wars and numerous other battles. Moreover, before HAMAS there were the PLO, Fatah, PFLP, PFLP-GC, 15 May Organization, Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades, Al-'Asifah, Arab Liberation Front, Force 17, Black Hand , Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - Special Command, Popular Resistance Committees, Popular Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Black September, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Palestinian Liberation Army, Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, Palestinian fedayeen, Swords of Truth, Rejectionist Front, among other organizations. Today most of the above organizations have been destroyed or just disappeared. But the conflict has not ended as the above organizations have been replaced by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Holy Jihad Brigades, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Army of Islam, As-Sa'iqa, Tanzim, Al-Quds Brigades, among others. The point here is that even if Israel destroys HAMAS, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians would not be solved and it would only be a matter of time before a new group forms to replace HAMAS. Israelis and Palestinians must realize that what they have done for the last 70 years will never bring peace to either Palestine or Israel under the best of circumstances. Under the worst of circumstances this conflict may lead to a nuclear war in which millions will die.

But how can Israelis and Palestinians begin reconciliation when both sides have experienced so much death and destruction?-- by focusing on the issues that affect people’s daily lives before tackling the big issues. For many years the parties have attempted to solve the most difficult and ideologically driven issues such as Jerusalem, settlements, borders and refugees without making serious effort to improving the daily lives of Palestinians and Israelis. Currently, the issues that affect people’s daily lives are violence and freedom of movement. Israelis want the firing of rockets and other forms of violence to stop. Palestinians also want violence against them to stop and they also want normalcy in the form of the free movement of commerce and people and halt the confiscation of their property.

For the Palestinians, the disruption in the free movement of people and commerce has been a despised symbol of peace efforts since the early 1990s. Not only are Palestinians hindered from working but their severe travel restrictions remind them they are oppressed. In addition, the halt of interstate commerce and exclusion of Palestinian labor from Israel has eliminated most interaction between Palestinians and Israelis at a time when they need more interaction. At the end of the day, whether a resolution to this conflict involves a free trade agreement between states, a European Union type of relationship, a confederation, or a one-state solution, there must be close relations between Palestinians and Israelis and improvements in their daily lives for there to be long term peace.

As to HAMAS, it may be easier to convince them to stop the violence if we offer normalcy in terms of lifting the blockade and allowing for the free movement of people and commerce. In return for normalcy, HAMAS would have to stop attacking Israel and also to stop anyone operating within the territory it controls from attacking Israel.

Another issue that has significant impact outside of the big issues is that of prisoners. This issue is much easier to tackle than borders, refugees and Jerusalem. Without a doubt any Israeli prisoner held by HAMAS would have to be released. However, Israel holds thousands of Palestinian prisoners--some even without formal charges. Releasing prisoners benefits both sides and could bring much needed popularity to the Palestinian Authority.

Finally, it may be beneficial to establish a truth and reconciliation commission where Israelis and Palestinians can meet to air out their grievances, and try to overcome them together. It is amazing how little both sides understand each other. In addition to a national commission, perhaps there can be sub commissions in various cities where Palestinians and Israelis can meet to talk and better understand each other.

The goal of the Task Force is to work in the United States, Israel/Palestine and the Arab world to build support for the peaceful coexistence of Israel and Palestine.