Thursday, January 8, 2009

Addressing Gaza: the First Step Must Be Taken By Both Sides

Here's a challenge: let's find common ground among all who desire a mutually acceptable solution to the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. (That of course omits the huge number of folks who want a fight to the death.) If a mutually acceptable solution can be dreamed up, perhaps the place to start is with a single sentence that both sides find acceptable. Implement that sentence, then look for a next step. My suggestion follows:

Declare a Gaza ceasefire with the following two provisions:
  1. No more use of weapons against the other side;
  2. No more collective punishment.

I think we all know what weapons are. Can we move on?

I think we actually all know what collective punishment is, too, if we stop and think for a moment. (OK, stop and think for a moment...)

But just in case, I'll spell it out. Collective punishment means punishing the whole population, rather than just having "our" combattants battle "your" combattants. Thus, collective punishment covers a lot of ground. It certainly includes, for example, Hamas rockets fired into civilian areas of Israel. It also certainly includes Israeli economic/medicine/energy boycotts and denial of basic human rights to the people of Gaza. I'm sure there's a nice, long UN definition of "basic human rights" somewhere, but just for starters basic human rights probably should include the right to collect your own taxes, the right to arm your own internal police force, the right to travel, the right to engage in international trade, the right not to have someone else build a wall around your home and put the key in his pocket. Perhaps I'd better stop before I step on someone's toes. This was supposed to be an exercise in designing a neutral, balanced formulation that will permit both sides jointly to take one small step forward.

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