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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

June 06, 2003

The Price for A Palestinian State

Jim Hoagland of The Washington Post discusses what the Palestinians must do, especially focusing upon the Right of Return
[...]Arafat, a creature of exile politics, refused at the last minute to swallow the bitter pill, which would have offered compensation for those not admitted to Israel[under the Clinton proposals for a wayaof working around the Right]. Instead he walked away from peace and into insurrection. And he got no pressure or criticism from the Arab leaders who have refused to take the politically risky steps of integrating the Palestinian refugees into their own societies. These leaders continued to put their interests and safety before those of peace. (Another historical note worth remembering: No one opposed a Palestinian state more fiercely in the 1970s than the royal families of the Gulf, led by the Saudis.) No one can dispute that Palestinian refugees lead existences of daily suffering and humiliation. They deserve not only sympathy but also compensation for their dispossession, and a fresh start outside those awful camps.

For that to happen on the basis of an Israeli-Palestinian peace, Arab leaders will have to display courage and toughness that have been absent for half a century in dealing with their own publics about the Palestinian refugees and workers in their midst.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon and in the first instance the Palestinian Authority will have to abandon the fiction that the Palestinians in diaspora have an absolute and unlimited "right of return" into Israel.

The Arab side must now also show concretely that it is committed to a genuine two-state solution.