Israeli-Palestinian conflict: A Solution in Perspective
Staff Writer, March 22, 2009

The recent events in Israel and Gaza suggest that the situation may be moving backward rather than forward. We realize that Palestinians are growing more radical. Similarly Israeli public decided to give a chance to the right in the recent elections.

We acknowledge the existence of the State of Israel and whose citizens have the right to live in peace and harmony. Likewise, we support the right of Palestinians to live in peace and harmony in West Bank and Gaza strip including those Arabs who live in Israel.

We are not here to discuss about the validity of the very inception of the State of Israel but to address where we go from here; given the fact that we all agree that tension exists between these two communities.

There is an interesting lesson that we all can learn from the Indian subcontinent.

British ruled the Indian subcontinent from 1757 for almost 200 years. The Indian subcontinent created many freedom fighters against the British rule that led to both independence and partition of India and Pakistan, a two-state solution, if you will.

After the fall of colonist rule in British India in 1947, there was a significant migration of South Asians especially Pakistanis to Britain, mostly for economic and educational opportunities. Political and linguistic discrimination as well as economic neglect led to popular agitations against the then West Pakistan (currently Pakistan), which led to the war for independence in 1971 and the establishment of the third state, Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan). Today, British partnered with the Indian crew and produced this year's Academy award winning movie "Slumdog Millionaire."

In essence both Indians and Pakistanis have embraced the British, who were once the occupiers, which is a good thing but unfortunately they still fail to recognize each other, who were once the same community and are still fighting over the Kashmir issue.

If you were to draw a parallel between the history of Indian subcontinent and the existing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the two-state solution that is being proposed, you can assume that Israel as being the future India, West Bank as Pakistan, Gaza eventually becoming Bangladesh and there is a possibility of having continual dispute over Jerusalem.

Having witnessed the friction between the two communities in the Indian subcontinent; we do not necessarily believe that the two-state solution will bring permanent peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict either.

There are certain things that both the Israelis and Palestinians can do to help resolve their problem.

Israel should understand that there is no military solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and should stop bombing the Palestinian territories.

Palestinians have to resolve their internal political divisions especially between West Bank and Gaza administrations; acknowledge Israel's permanent place in the region and stop firing rockets at Israeli civilians.

Importantly, Palestinians should shift their struggle from one for an independent state to a South African-style struggle that demands equal rights for all citizens, irrespective of religion, in a single state. That, of course, would be much cleaner struggle, a much popular and ultimately a much more powerful one.