September 26, 2011

The Palestinian Bid for Statehood

We take a closer look at the history and the latest negotiations.

“I don’t think this is the best way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I don’t think it’s good for democracy. I don’t think it’s good for the Palestinian people, Americans or Israelis.”

“A lot of Palestinian’s are suffering. The number of people who are living in poverty is tremendous, and the number of people who are unemployed is also tremendous. People don’t see that, and they don’t see what’s going on and they need our help.”

Justin: Ariella and Nerden are just students but, still, they speak for many representing two sides of one big issue: should the Palestinian territories become a state?

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas says yes, and he asked the United Nations to recognize an independent Palestine. Currently, Palestinians live in a territory that is now part of Israel. On friday, Abbas addressed world leaders and laid out his case.

Mahmoud Abbas: The time has come for the Palestinian people to gain their freedom and independence.

Justin: But the Israeli leader countered and said the issues were deeper.

“The core of the conflict comes from the failure of the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state.”

Justin: If the UN agrees, it would give Palestinians more of a voice on the world stage but wouldn’t solve any of the issues on the ground.

It is unlikely the push for statehood will go anywhere. The U.S. says it will block the bid and is asking Palestinians to sit down with Israelis and not to go through the United Nations. President Obama says that is the only way to find a path to peace.

The U.S. has called for continued negotiations versus the application. Is that a good route, do you think, to continue peace talks?

Nerden Mohsen: No, because that’s been going on for a very long time. There’s only so much we can talk about before we actually have to take action, and this is the beginning of action. We can’t just keep talking, we have to start taking action.

Justin: Not everyone agrees.

“To leave Israel out of the picture, it’s really the Palestinians telling Israel, ‘we’re not a partner in peace.’ The only way for both sides to make peace and finally get along is through direct negotiations. And that’s just not happening right now.”

Justin: So, why can’t Palestinians and Israelis get along? Well, it is a long, complicated story. The root of the problem is that Israelis believe they are entitled to the land known as Israel, while Palestinians believe they are entitled to the land they call Palestine. Problem is, it is the same land, but with different names.

Years leading up to World War II and after, many Jewish people fled persecution in Europe and headed for Palestine as their new homeland. Because of growing violence, the UN General Assembly met and divided Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. War broke out and by 1948, the state of Israel was founded. The country looked something like this. These are what are known as the 1947 lines.

Twenty years later, another war put Israel in control of more land. These are what are known as the 1967 lines.

Growing anger over Israeli rule led to riots among the Palestinians and tensions boiled on both sides. In 1993, after peace talks, Israeli forces agreed to withdraw from the territories and Palestinians were able to set up some of their own leadership. But this did not go over well with hardline Israelis and Palestinians. The Islamic militant group Hamas began deadly suicide bombings, killing dozens of Israeli civilians. Israeli counter-strikes also led to many Palestinian deaths, and some Israelis were moving into the Palestinian territories and building communities.

The back and forth has continued for years. Peace negotiations have stalled, mostly because both sides can’t agree on how to draw up their borders.

Nerden hopes this attention surrounding the issue will keep Palestinians in the spotlight.

Nerden: The most important thing is that the eyes are on Palestine now and more people are becoming aware.

Justin: For Ariella, she remains convinced that negotiations are the key to peace.

Ariella: The only way for a negotiation to work is if both sides walk away from the table equally happy or equally unhappy. And if both sides can make that decision, hard decisions, to give up things that both sides hold dearly, I think peace can happen.

Justin: Justin Finch, Channel One News.


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