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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:
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
That bit specifying the topic of this discussion is official, by the way.
Are sure this we can discuss it here even with specific constraints?
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.)
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.
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.
This should obviously be the case with any thread, OTC or not.
Out of curiosity; What were those circustances?Send me a PM if you are worried that merely mentioning them will cause a derail.
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.
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.
First I want to ask to what degree discussing possible solutions is permitted by the topic. Can't hurt to be cautious.
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.
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.
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.
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
The Wikipedia article I linked in my previous post has this to say:
So my "contentious" view is only that of the relevant international institutions.
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.
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
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: 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
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.
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
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...
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)
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
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
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How well does it match the trope?