- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 27, 2003

Assessing the road map to peace

The Washington Times’ July 17 editorial (“Taking stock of the road map”) assessing the status of President Bush’s road map for Mideast peace mentioned a recent survey of Palestinians, which showed that a majority would not demand a “right of return” to Israel proper and would accept monetary compensation in exchange for giving up that “right.”

It is important that the American public understands why the “right of return” is such a hot-button issue for Palestinians and Israelis. The creation of Israel in 1948 involved removing Palestinians from their land by force and placing them in refugee camps in Jordan and Egypt. This history is the root of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and must be acknowledged and recognized as the two sides are evaluated on their progress in implementing Mr. Bush’s road map.

Israel was created in 1948 on land that was occupied by or claimed by Palestinians. Israel refers to its creation as a “war of independence.” It was a “war” because the Israelis moved hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and land in order to accommodate the arrival of tens of thousands of Jews, primarily from Europe, who immigrated to Israel proper.

The Palestinians who left their homes and land in 1948 have been in refugee camps or the occupied territories ever since the creation of Israel. History shows that the Palestinians are the people who lost the most when Israel was created. The vast majority of Palestinians today recognize that the world is resolved to defend and maintain the 1948 borders of Israel, and the Palestinians know that their state will be alongside Israel.

When looking at the progress of the road map, the Israeli foreign minister recently said that one large Palestinian attack could end the progress immediately. This comment shows Israel’s desire to assess the road map and implement it based on daily, current events.

In viewing history since 1948, one can make a strong case that the creation of a Palestinian state should move forward without the threat of ceasing the road map process if there is one large attack by Palestinian militants. The world hopes that no more attacks will occur and expects the new Palestinian leadership of Mahmoud Abbas to end attacks. His ability to do this will be dependent on how much success he is able to show the Palestinian people toward building a recognized Palestinian state by 2005. The reason to move forward and create such a state is to improve life for Palestinians.

While violence by Palestinians must cease, it must be noted that militants represent a very small percentage of the Palestinian population. There are about 6 million Palestinians now who still live in refugee camps and another 3 million who live in the occupied territories. The West Bank and Gaza Strip have been occupied by Israel and Jewish settlers since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

America recognizes that poverty causes crime and feeds extremism and violence. This is why job programs and development projects target at-risk youth in our cities and at-risk segments of the American population. Creating a Palestinian state that is free, that can attract foreign direct investment, that can trade with other countries and provide social services to its people will go a long way to improving Palestinian relations with Israel. Furthermore, it will correct the major oversight related to the creation of Israel, which was in not creating and implementing a viable state for the Palestinians to go to when they had to leave the land that would become Israel.

The settlements are not legal under international law. In fact, the process of taking new people and settling them on land captured in war has been outlawed since the United Nations was created and before the creation of the state of Israel: The United States is a signatory to the international convention that prohibits Israel’s policy of moving Jewish settlers onto land won in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. This will be another thorny issue to resolve in the road map, but the international community, including Russia, Europe and the Arab states, all endorse the view that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. The United States should adopt this position.

The nonviolent Palestinian majority deserves a state where economic opportunity, education and freedom of movement are readily available. Since 1948, Israel has been largely able to achieve that for its citizens, despite the attacks. The Palestinians in the refugee camps and the occupied territories have not been able to accomplish similar things.

The United States has provided significant support to Israel to help it thrive economically, to the tune of billions of dollars each year. The creation of a Palestinian state will present the world with an opportunity to provide similar assistance to the Palestinians. For Israeli security to be achieved, the lives of Palestinians need to be substantially improved. This is most likely to occur if there is an actual Palestinian state. History has shown that the Israeli military occupation of the occupied territories since 1967 has not created an environment where economic, legal and social improvements have been achievable for the Palestinians.

Israel, the United States, Europe and the Arab states must vocalize confidence in the road map and show strength in implementing it. More attacks by a small minority of militant Palestinians, if they occur, should not end the chance for peace. Neither should action by militant Jewish settlers, as they try to erect some of the smaller “illegal” Jewish outposts that Ariel Sharon’s government has begun dismantling. The processes set forth in the road map must move forward, so that there is a Palestinian state by 2005 — 57 years after the state of Israel was created.

The road map represents the best hope for the creation of a prosperous Palestinian state. The creation of such a state alongside Israel is required in order to improve the quality of life for both Israelis and Palestinians. American, Israeli and Palestinian leaders need to be encouraged to maintain this new momentum and achieve the end goal of the road map: a Palestinian state and Israeli state living side by side in peace.



Mexican ID card not safe

Hats off to The Washington Times for the excellent editorial, “How Mexico undermines U.S. law,” on Friday. In light of the damning testimony of the FBI’s security chief, it is inconceivable that any police department, city council or any other government agency could recognize the matricula consular ID card as valid identification. As for the banks, it is obvious that profit supercedes caution.

As any American citizen knows, they are unable to open a bank or checking account without a verifiable Social Security number, yet these same banks are willing to accept a card issued by a foreign country that cannot be verified. Have they all gone crazy?


San Diego

D.C. gun ban helps criminals

There is a bizarre constitutional sidelight to the District of Columbia’s gun ban that was not discussed in either of your two recent Commentary pieces (“Battle of the gun ban,” Wednesday and “Gun control maneuvers,” Friday). Few people are aware that criminals are exempt from the ban.

As Linda Chavez noted, D.C.’s law makes it illegal to possess any handgun not registered by Sept. 24, 1976. But in Haynes v. United States, 390 U.S. 85 (1968), the Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 that requiring convicted felons to register their illegal guns would force them to incriminate themselves, which is prohibited by the Fifth Amendment. This is clearly controlling precedent, so therefore, only otherwise law-abiding people can be convicted for violating D.C.’s gun ban.

This ruling is no technicality — it upholds an important constitutional foundation of our liberties. I just can’t imagine how any gun-control law could insult the rights of law-abiding citizens more.

And I have to wonder how an Alice-in-Wonderland law that exempts criminals is supposed to reduce crime. But then, I don’t suppose that it has.



Baltimore City Libertarian Party


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