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Israel and Palestine:

 1 Achaemenid, Thu, 15th Aug '13 2:08:16 PM from the dear green place. Relationship Status: You can be my wingman any time
Ein kleines Blümelein
Right. Given the high quality of discussion on OTC about other issues, it would be nice to have some Troper input on this thorniest of Middle Eastern issues. Tropers wanting a brief overview of Israel should check out its Useful Notes page, or Israel and Palestine's country profiles on the BBC.

At the outset, however, I want to make something very clear: This thread will be about sharing and discussing news. Discussions about whether the existence of Israel is justified would be off-topic, as would any extended argument or analysis about the countries' history.

So, let's start off:

At the moment, the two countries, prodded by the United States, are currently attempting to negotiate peace. A previous round of talks collapsed in 2010 after Israel refused to order a halt to settlement building on Palestinian land. US mediators will be present.

The aim of the talks is to end the conflict based on the "two state solution" - where independent Palestinian and Israeli states exist alongside each other. Both sides have expressed cynicism, although the US government has said it is "cautiously optimistic".

Key issues of the talks:

  • Jerusalem: The city is holy to both Islam and Judaism. Both Palestine and Israel claim it as their capital. Israel has de facto control over most of it, a situation its Prime Minister has said will persist for "eternity". Some campaigners hope it can become an international city under UN or joint Israeli/Palestinian administration.

  • Borders and settlements: The Palestinian Authority claims that the land conquered by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967 (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) is illegally occupied, and must be vacated by Israel in the event of a future Palestinian state. However, there are over 500, 000 Israeli citizens living in settlements across the "Green line". Israel claims that a future Palestinian government would oppress or ethnically cleanse them, whilst many settlers claim that the land is rightfully theirs, as they have an ethno-religious link to it as part of the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people.

  • Palestinian refugees: In 1948, around 700, 000 Palestinian Arabs left the territory of the new Israeli state. The reasons why are still debated - preferably elsewhere. The Palestinian negotiators wish for them and their descendants to have a right of return to Israel. The Israeli government considers only those who were actually forced away all those years ago to have a legitimate claim (if that). The US government considers them all refugees, to Republican fury.

So you can see why its never been fixed. The religious dimension in particular has a lot of people vexed - asking Muslims or Jews to abandon Jerusalem has been likened to asking Catholics to skip communion.

Still, there's hope. Somewhere. The latest developments in the region:

edited 15th Aug '13 2:10:49 PM by Achaemenid

 2 Best Of, Thu, 15th Aug '13 2:10:20 PM from Finland Relationship Status: Falling within your bell curve
With Mod Hat On
That bit specifying the topic of this discussion is official, by the way.
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest to children ardent for desperate glory that old lie: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
 3 Captain Katsura, Thu, 15th Aug '13 2:18:31 PM from    Poland   
Decoy
[up][up]Are sure this we can discuss it here even with specific constraints?
My President is Funny Valentine.
 4 Best Of, Thu, 15th Aug '13 2:20:21 PM from Finland Relationship Status: Falling within your bell curve
FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC!
Now, posting without the Mod Hat:

I'm not very optimistic about these peace talks, simply because there have been so many before that either haven't had any results or resulted in decisions that were later revoked, usually unilaterally. Still, holding any talks at all is probably a step forward, and the situation there is relatively stable, all things considered.

Releasing prisoners is something that Israel has done many times before, usually (or that's the impression I have) as part of a prisoner exchange. It would be best if neither side was holding any prisoners, so releasing some is a step in the right direction.

As for the new illegal settlements, well, the fact that they're illegal says it all. If peace is what Israel wants it should stop these provocations; but anyone who's been following news about the region for at least a couple of years knows that Israel has been consistent about expanding their illegal settlements. I hope that Israel will stop doing it, or alternatively that a mutually agreeable peace deal can be achieved despite the settlements.

(If you don't know what these settlements are, Wikipedia is you friend.)
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest to children ardent for desperate glory that old lie: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
 5 Best Of, Thu, 15th Aug '13 2:22:37 PM from Finland Relationship Status: Falling within your bell curve
With Mod Hat On
[up][up]Mod Hat again:

We (that is, the Mods) have agreed to let this thread happen. We're hoping that the circumstances that caused previous discussions about this topic to explode are no longer present. The survival of this thread depends on the conduct of its participants. Let's stay on-topic and avoid debates about the justification of the existence of Israel and things like that, and this thread should work just fine.
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest to children ardent for desperate glory that old lie: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
scratching at .8, just hopin'
I take it gambling or speculation on how long this thread will last is similarly off topic.

A bit of information missing from the OP: peace and human rights organizations. B'Tselem, Al-Haq, the PCHR, the RCHRS, and Yesh Din are worth mentioning for starters.
 7 Best Of, Thu, 15th Aug '13 2:29:39 PM from Finland Relationship Status: Falling within your bell curve
FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC!
I take it gambling or speculation on how long this thread will last is similarly off topic.

This should obviously be the case with any thread, OTC or not.
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest to children ardent for desperate glory that old lie: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
 8 Saint Deltora, Thu, 15th Aug '13 2:32:49 PM from Brazil Relationship Status: Hugging my pillow
Lusty
@Best Of

Out of curiosity; What were those circustances?Send me a PM if you are worried that merely mentioning them will cause a derail.
Misato:Tomorrow, you will see all the good you did.

-

Toji:-Punches- And that is for destroying half my neighborhood.

EV Abridged.
scratching at .8, just hopin'
Given the reticence of the governments and near-government entities involved, I'm thinking non-governmental actors will have to take the lead in applying nonviolent and economic pressure. NG Os can seek resolutions where politicians are afraid to.
 10 Captain Katsura, Thu, 15th Aug '13 2:39:51 PM from    Poland   
Decoy
What's your opinion on hypothethical situation when Jerusalem is a free city under UN governance? The major problem with such solution is that the dominant ethnicity of the free city might strive to reunify with either Israel or Palestine, just likeFree City Gduńsk's (I'm using the proper and original Kashubian name of the city) dominant ethnicity in 1920-30s, Germans, wanted reunification with Germany since its formation.
My President is Funny Valentine.
 11 Radical Taoist, Thu, 15th Aug '13 2:41:13 PM from the #GUniverse
scratching at .8, just hopin'
First I want to ask to what degree discussing possible solutions is permitted by the topic. Can't hurt to be cautious.
 12 Best Of, Thu, 15th Aug '13 2:47:32 PM from Finland Relationship Status: Falling within your bell curve
FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC!
Let's stick to stuff that's actually been suggested by someone who is considered mainstream (so not any sort of extremists.)

With that caveat I think we can discuss possible solutions. Just don't propose something like forced deportations (or worse) of thousands of people. Stick to peaceful solutions.
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest to children ardent for desperate glory that old lie: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
 13 Tobias Drake, Thu, 15th Aug '13 3:01:04 PM from Colorado, USA Relationship Status: Married to my murderer
Black Dragon
Out of curiosity; What were those circustances?

Send me a PM if you are worried that merely mentioning them will cause a derail.

Can I get that PM too? I wasn't here for previous threads, and I have a bad habit of coming in on the ass-end of a controversy and kicking up a hornet's nest after it had already been decided that we're going to leave the hornets alone.
 14 FF Shinra, Thu, 15th Aug '13 4:22:58 PM from Ivalice, apparently Relationship Status: Too sexy for my shirt
Beware the Crazy Man.
I think that the talks are ill-timed. With the Arab Spring surrounding them, there is violence to the south and a refugee crisis to the north (and also violence). One or both sides might be constrained by those facts (nevermind the usual suspects that usually cause talks failure).

That said, the Palestinians at least are more organized now than the last time we had this conversation (with regards to the UN and all), so maybe there are more options, diplomatically. Of course, they may be a bit too distracted with their own refugees in Syria and Lebanon becoming refugees twice over, but we'll see.

As for the Israelis, the recent Knesset election has me both optimistic and worried. Optimistic because moderates are getting a leg up. Worried because so are the extremists.
Final Fantasy, Foreign Policy, and Bollywood. Helluva combo, that...
@Original post
A previous round of talks collapsed in 2010 after Israel refused to order a halt to settlement building on Palestinian land.
We halted it for a preset period of 10 months. They waited until the last one.

there are over 500, 000 Israeli citizens living in settlements across the "Green line". Israel claims that a future Palestinian government would oppress or ethnically cleanse them
Abbas recently said that not a single Israeli will be allowed in the Palestinian state.

Israel has released 26 imprisoned Palestinian prisoners convicted of attacks on Israeli civilians
Some of them were convicted of attacks on Palestinians for supposed collaboration and "moral crimes".

@Best Of
It would be best if neither side was holding any prisoners, so releasing some is a step in the right direction.
How can murderers going free possibly be a positive development? Let alone these, who are given heroes' welcome and held up by the Palestinian government as role models(how's that for a provocation). I have no idea why my government would release them for yet more words. Ideally, they will explain it in full when they are tried for treason.

As for the new illegal settlements, well, the fact that they're illegal says it all.
A rather contentious "fact", considering that at least some of them are on land that we privately own and were driven away from by Jordan. Also, these aren't new settlements, and at least some of this construction won't start until at least two years from now. I'm not exactly a fan of the (real, un-annexed) settlements, but a little perspective please.

I hope that Israel will stop doing it, or alternatively that a mutually agreeable peace deal can be achieved despite the settlements.
We've emptied settlements for less.

 16 Silasw, Thu, 15th Aug '13 5:17:26 PM from UK :( Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Globalist Bunny
I'm just going to quote the OP/mod authorisation PM.

"This thread will be about sharing and discussing news."

So that we don't go strait into a flame war about the morality of the settlements.

edited 15th Aug '13 5:19:24 PM by Silasw

"And the Bunny nails it!" ~ Gabrael

"If the UN can get through a day without everyone strangling everyone else so can we." ~ Cyran
 17 Best Of, Thu, 15th Aug '13 5:28:33 PM from Finland Relationship Status: Falling within your bell curve
FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC!
A rather contentious "fact", considering that at least some of them are on land that we privately own...

The Wikipedia article I linked in my previous post has this to say:

The international community considers the settlements in occupied territory to be illegal. Israeli neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and communities in the Golan Heights, areas which have been annexed by Israel, are also considered settlements by the international community, which does not recognise Israel's annexations of these territories. The United Nations has repeatedly upheld the view that Israel's construction of settlements constitutes violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The International Court of Justice also says these settlements are illegal, and no foreign governments support Israel's settlements.

So my "contentious" view is only that of the relevant international institutions.

How can murderers going free possibly be a positive development?

What I originally said was that ideally neither side would be holding prisoners. This is true of any society, because ideally there wouldn't be crime - or, to relate it to this case, the best case scenario would not include a conflict that would cause crime that results in prisoners.

But I also said that releasing prisoners is a step in the right direction, and by that I mean that it builds bridges and achieves small victories for the two sides in the negotiations, thus taking the process forward. As for whether the prisoners are generally held on any charges that would be upheld by an international trial, my suspicion is that both sides have some cases right and others wrong, but I haven't studied these particular cases at all so I wouldn't know.

We've emptied settlements for less.

I should have acknowledged this is my post.

EDIT: I seem to be launching a derail here. To prevent it escalating further I'll point out that I spoke of the legality of the settlements, not any sort of moral justification for them. I don't want to argue about whether Israeli law trumps international law, so if someone wants to claim that the settlements are legal I'll agree to disagree, on the grounds that we're arguing different points.

ANOTHER EDIT: On reflection I shouldn't have mentioned the legality of the settlements at all - merely that the international community and Palestine see them as an obstruction to further negotiations. From this post on I'll restrain myself to that point of view.

edited 15th Aug '13 5:33:20 PM by BestOf

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest to children ardent for desperate glory that old lie: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
 18 Silasw, Thu, 15th Aug '13 5:32:34 PM from UK :( Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Globalist Bunny
I think that while prisoner releases made an idea as a gesture of good will, there are much better gestures of good will that could be done. How many instances of violence against Palestinians go unpunished each year? A crackdown on violence by settlers against Palestinians, sounds to me, like a much better idea for a gesture of good will.

Edit: [up] I was just being cautious with my post, since I thought I could feel the start of an "are Israel's actions morally justified" derail.

edited 15th Aug '13 5:34:27 PM by Silasw

"And the Bunny nails it!" ~ Gabrael

"If the UN can get through a day without everyone strangling everyone else so can we." ~ Cyran
 19 Captain Katsura, Thu, 15th Aug '13 5:32:46 PM from    Poland   
Decoy
When declaring amnesty for prisoners, their cases should be evaluated on individual basis. Notorious criminals, such as murderers and rapists should be not let out no matter what excuse they used to "justify" their crimes.
My President is Funny Valentine.
 20 Best Of, Thu, 15th Aug '13 5:39:45 PM from Finland Relationship Status: Falling within your bell curve
FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC!
I think that while prisoner releases made an idea as a gesture of good will, there are much better gestures of good will that could be done.

I agree. One reason I can think of for prisoner exchange is that you actually get prisoners from your side back, so it's mutual rather than unilateral. You give something and you get something. So in that sense it's a practical approach if you want to emphasise the ways that the two sides are working together.

Another reason I can think of for favouring particular gestures over others is that it might be politically convenient to take one approach rather than another. It might be a deal that you can do with the other side without angering too many of your voters. But that would obviously depend on a multitude of factors, so I'm merely suggesting that it might be a potential reason for this.

edited 15th Aug '13 5:40:56 PM by BestOf

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest to children ardent for desperate glory that old lie: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
I think true peace is only achievable in the long run - old hatred refuses to die. So until most of the current generation die of old age, and the newer generation don't have the opportunity to gather new hate, peace will be hard to achieve. I hope the current peace talks try to keep that in mind. Imo any plan should try to work with a time span of AT LEAST 50 years, even though from a political pov, you want succes now for your reelection...
I was young and needed a nick.

www.xkcd.com/386/
 22 Qeise, Thu, 15th Aug '13 11:08:59 PM from sqrt(-inf)/0 Relationship Status: Waiting for you *wink*
Professional Smartass
So that we don't go strait into a flame war about the morality of the settlements.
Must resist Godwin...
Laws are made to be broken. You're next, thermodynamics.
Pontif
would a three state (israel, palestine, jerusalem) be better than a two state?

if jerusalem were an independent nation, protected from anexation by law (and a sizable force of Swiss Guard. They worked for the vatican for centuries, and have a MUCH better track record than UN Blue Helmets), that would at least take care of one of the key sticking points.

As a state, it has a large enough population to be economicaly viable (more people than Lichtenstein), with income from tourism & pilgrimages

and a uk style parliament of the 3 groups. (jewish, muslim and christian)

 24 Greenmantle, Fri, 16th Aug '13 12:05:20 AM from Failing Britannia Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
... and?
[up]

and a uk style parliament of the 3 groups. (jewish, muslim and christian)

Should be interesting, especially considering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (and the Immovable Ladder) — there have been brawls between members of the different Churches resident there.

I'll need to write up a post attempting to explain the Knesset (or find the old one).

edited 16th Aug '13 12:06:19 AM by Greenmantle

"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield" — Alfred, Lord Tennyson
 25 Captain Katsura, Fri, 16th Aug '13 6:23:34 AM from    Poland   
Decoy
Free City Jerusalem. Fitting for region in which there is a spiritual successors of the Second Polish Commonwealth (most political and military leaders of early Israel lived in Poland and learned their trade there). If I recall well, Knesset bears similarity to how Polish Sejm in 1918-1939 worked.

edited 16th Aug '13 6:23:42 AM by CaptainKatsura

My President is Funny Valentine.
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