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The Silent Majority
Last uploaded : Friday 25th Jun 2004 at 00:39
Contributed by : Ata Qeimari


Developments in the area may point to intransigence, but it is as true to say that the foundation for change is taking place in Israeli politics. Against a rising number of casualties among soldiers, recent polls conducted among Israelis indicate that the planned pullout by Israel from the Gaza Strip is gaining currency, even within Likud circles. A reawakening left and a large number of protesters of unnamed party affiliation are reinforcing the ranks of those tending to favour the plan. The message of recent protests to the Sharon government reads: Either the government takes political action or it falls.
There can be no middle road.

As things stand, the solution to the conflict is in Israel's hands, being the stronger party. It has the leeway to consider alternatives and make choices. We have none: we can never opt for surrender, which in the absence of the possibility of victory, constitutes no alternative.

This is a war in which there can be no trenchant victory for either side. There can be no victor, except on a relative scale, the number of casualties claimed by the one party or the other. By now, Israel should realize it will never succeed in wiping the Palestinian people off the map, nor can the Palestinians erase Israel and the Israeli people. What the Palestinians can do - within a relative scale - is to force Israel to withdraw from the land occupied in the war of June 1967, and to receive the Right of Return in full, in exchange for recognition of Israel as an independent state for the Jews.

We must get ready for a full Israeli withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip. It hardly needs be said that the liberation of the Gaza Strip still leaves the problem of the occupation unresolved. We in the West Bank and Jerusalem will remain hostage to the chains of the occupation. We will still have to fight for our freedom, but this state of affairs should also drive us to observe the lay of the land, survey the tides on both sides, and come up with initiatives.

The silent majority in Israel that wishes for peace requires true support from us to encourage it to confront the extremists who insist on perpetuating the conflict until the last drop of Palestinian and Israeli blood is shed. We need to say to them, you have a true and loyal partner. For we make peace with those who wish to make peace with us. We reach out to those who reach out to us. The gathering voice calling for a full withdrawal will spread to include not only the Gaza Strip but also the West Bank. We have clashed enough, and have slain and slaughtered each other for all too long. Now you too have funerals to attend all too frequently, as we plod day in, day out, to bury our dead.

If Israel is opting for the road to peace by first withdrawing from Gaza, we must find amongst ourselves a way to welcome the step and to match it. Just as there is a potential majority supporting peace in Israel, it also exists in Palestine, where there is more than a mere majority but a consensus that peace connotes not only the end of the occupation but also the end of war for both nations.


Source: Jerusalem Times, May 27, 2004

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Distributed by the Common Ground News Service.
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