There will never be peace between Israelis and Palestinians until the Palestinians are given a land to call their own, Ibrahim Karawan said during his lecture at the Hinckley Institute of Politics Thursday.
A Palestinian state will not solve the tension between Israel and the homeless Palestinians, but it is a crucial step in the right direction, he said.Karawan, a political science professor at the University of Utah, is an Egyptian who has won support from both Palestinians and Israelis with his suggestions for collective compromise.
While Karawan defends Palestinians' bid for a homeland, he criticizes their militant stance. Palestinians have taken an extreme position by vowing to establish a "fighting authority" in Israel, he said.
"If the Israelis are in their right mind, why should they give the Palestinians a chance to establish a fighting authority on the West Bank and Gaza?"
The Palestinians must curb their anger if they hope to win land from Israel, he said. He suggests dividing the land along pre-1967 borders, essentially giving the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians.
Karawan reviewed the military and political fronts that have torn the Middle East since the early 1900s. The nature of the tension in the Middle East changed dramatically when Egypt withdrew from the conflict in the 1970s, he said. By neutralizing Egypt, the United States and Israel rendered the Arabs militarily powerless.
These days, the most menacing front in Israel is not a military front, but a political front. Referring to the clash between Palestinians and Israelis, he called it more a conflict of identities than of borders.
Each side is afraid to acknowledge the legitimacy of the other side, because such an acknowledgment will diminish their own legitimacy. That's why Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as a nation, choosing to define Israelis as Jews - a religious sect rather than a political nation. Israelis, on the other hand, refuse to recognize Palestinians' claim to the land, choosing to view them as homeless refugees who need to have more apartment buildings built for them.
Karawan criticized those who believe the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis is too complicated to resolve. The present situation cannot continue, he said.
"You have 1.5 million Palestinians living under Israeli control, letting everyone know they hate the guts of that occupation. If the numbers, position and attitude are that cleaved - as we have seen again and again that it is - is there any illusion that a peaceful occupation can be maintained?