Feb 012009
Authors: Sean Reed

Fresh into his first term as president, Barack Obama has already started work on one of the most difficult foreign policies plaguing our nation: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Two members of the CSU community, Shirit Stern, a senior animal sciences major, and Zaki Safar, a CSU alumnus, were kind enough to share their stance on this conflict.

Q: What do you think is the source of this conflict?

A: The source of this conflict? Well, now we could be here all day. The source is the argument of whose land belongs to whom, and in that, who has the right to govern which land.

The Gaza strip is land [that] belongs to the Palestinians. However, Hamas is governing it in a way [that] is not conducive to improving the living conditions of the Palestinian people. The Palestinians living in Gaza rely on Israel to supply them with clean water, infrastructure, etc., but an elementary step to governing one’s own country is to take responsibility for one’s own people.

The source of the conflict is a disagreement that goes back to biblical perceptions.

Q: Do you think it is possible to solve this conflict? If so, what would it take?

A: The major challenge I see to solving this conflict is compromise and the ability to see another’s point of view. People can be steadfast to their convictions, but the violence has gone on far too long to argue opinions any longer.

It is time for the Palestinian people to collaborate with each other instead of continuing to argue between Fatah and Hamas, and to form a unitary body for negotiations and government. It is time for the Palestinians to end rocket attacks on Israel, so Israel can begin to allow a more open border between Gaza and Egypt. It is also far past the time for Israel to have Gilad Shalit returned, the 22-year-old soldier who was captured by Hamas in August 2006 and who is still held captive despite Israel’s concessions.

To eventually solve the conflict, it will also take the collaboration of the international community to work towards a two-state solution in the future.

Q: What do you think is the source of this conflict?

A: It must not be forgotten that International Law unequivocally views the Palestinian lands captured by Israel during the 1967 war as illegally occupied territory that must be returned to the Palestinians. This remains the principle source of conflict not only in Gaza and the West Bank, but throughout the entire Middle East.

… Israel has imposed a two-year crippling siege on the not-yet occupied Palestinian territories. Israel smothered the inhabitants Gaza Strip in catastrophic ways — electricity and fuel supplies were cut off, border crossings sealed, and food, medicine and humanitarian aid prevented from reaching Gazans.

Just during the last war on Gaza for example, the Israeli war machine had killed 1,300 Palestinians, including 417 children and 108 women, hardly members of Hamas, and injured more than 5,320. According to UN reports, most of those killed were innocent civilians. Moreover, over 4,100 homes, 20 mosques, 1,500 shops, factories and schools have been destroyed by the Israeli army.

With a broad array of deliberate provocations, Israel often succeeds in provoking Palestinian militants into launching rockets into Southern Israel, thus providing Israel with the excuse to wage wars and kill and drive out more Palestinians. …

Q: Do you think it is possible to solve this conflict? If so, what would it take?

A: Israel needs to completely withdraw from the territories it has seized and occupied during the 1967 war. In addition to acknowledging the right of return for Palestinians, Israel must stop building and expanding illegal settlements on Palestinian lands.

Israel, who has more UN resolutions issued against it than the rest of the world combined, must not view itself to be above International Law. For example, evidence emerged during the war on Gaza that Israel had been using white phosphorous, a chemical weapon outlawed by the 1980 Geneva Convention.

While Israel strives to make clear to the world that Hamas’ rockets are the root cause of the conflict, the truth is, if Israel lifts or even loosens its massive and crippling blockade on Gaza, halts its raids against Palestinians and starts treating them like full humans, there would be no rocket attacks.

Editorials Editor Sean Reed can be reached at letters@collegian.com.

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